Any doubts whether veteran Schalk Brits is still in good enough shape to play international rugby was summarily dismissed this week – reports Rugby 365.
The 37-year-old, 10-times capped Springbok hooker, enjoyed a winning finale with Saracens by helping them win the Premiership title at Twickenham on May 26 – beating Exeter 27-10.
Despite his excellent form last season, Brits insisted he was finished with professional rugby and has been accepted by Cambridge University to do a Masters degree along with a job at Reinet, the company owned by former Sarries shareholder Johann Rupert, the South African businessman.
Now, Brits is facing a dilemma with Rassie Erasmus, the Springbok coach, offering the hooker the carrot of being part of the squad at next year’s World Cup in Japan, reprising the role he had at the 2015 tournament in England. Erasmus has a group of young hookers in his squad but believes Brits could offer both experience and the stardust that made him such a fan favourite in England.
Erasmus this week said Brits’knowledge of the English will stand him in good stead at Newlands on Saturday.
“On the flipside, they know him really well,” the Bok mentor said.
Asked if he is confident Brits would be able to play 80 minutes, should starting hooker Mahlatse Ralepelle be injured in the first minute, Erasmus said: “Without a doubt.
“He is out of the four hookers here, the fittest.”
As far as Erasmus is concerned there are only positives to be gained by having Brits back in the matchday squad at the Newlands – where he made his debut for the Springboks against Italy in 2008.
“Schalk is the type of guy who could play until he is 38 and one more season wouldn’t be impossible,” he said.
“But we will have to take stock after this series and make a decision.
“If we need to call his number for the World Cup we would want to be able to do that. He does have to keep playing rugby somewhere though.
“If he stops playing rugby then it wouldn’t work, but if he keeps playing we are allowed to pick anyone playing anywhere. But this is all in the future. We will see about his future after this Saturday.
“The European experience he has‚ and his overall experience‚ has helped younger hookers such as Akker (van der Merwe). And if this weekend is the last‚ then Schalk’s purpose with us has still been fulfilled.”
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