Schalk Brits has backed Lions lock Marvin Orie to fill the void in the Springboks ranks created by the serious knee injury that will rule RG Snyman out of the sport for at least six months, removing one of the key elements from the World Cup-winning ‘bomb squad’.
Snyman suffered an ACL tear seven minutes into his Munster debut last month and with the Springboks possibly becoming the eighth team to compete in a one-off November tournament in Europe, finding another second row option will be crucial.
The second row giant was a member of the so-called Springbok ‘bomb squad’, the eight replacements who played such a key role in helping to defeat England in the 2019 World Cup final in Yokohama.
Brits – a member of that cup-winning squad – believes the player to replace Snyman is Orie, the 27-year-old lock from the Lions who has won three caps and recently spent a period on loan at the Ospreys.
Moving Pieter-Step du Toit, the World Rugby player of the year for 2019, from flanker to lock is also an option for the Springboks, who are now coached by Jacques Nienaber after Rassie Erasmus moved into the role of SA Rugby’s director of rugby.
— Schalk Brits (@SchalkBrits) April 7, 2020
Brits isn’t convinced du Toit wants to move into the second row and become an option alongside the World Cup trio of Lood de Jager (Sale), Eben Etzebeth (Toulon) and Franco Mostert (Honda Heat). He told RugbyPass: “Marvin was involved when we were preparing for the World Cup and as there hasn’t been a lot of training, it is a natural decision to bring him into the squad. I don’t know if Pieter-Steph wants to play lock anymore but he is so versatile he can play any role.
“There are other locks who will be looking to impress and JD Schickerling (Stormers) went on the end of year tour a couple of years ago. My own view is that they will pull in Marvin and then it would be quite a surprise if they didn’t use Pieter-Steph as an extra combination.
“My prediction is they will have the same Springbok squad as at the World Cup. There is talk about trying to have a tournament with Australia and New Zealand but how do you practically do that at the moment?
“There is also talk of South Africa being part of the eight-team tournament in Europe in November but some of the players are in Japan having to quarantine and then they would have to quarantine again if they leave. Domestically, they are hoping to start up in a couple of weeks here but it’s still up in the air.”
Brits is currently preparing for the greatest challenge of his sporting life, joining fellow Springbok hookers Hanyani Shimange and 2007 World Cup-winning captain John Smit in helping to raise £4.4million for the families of medical staff killed fighting Covid-19 in South Africa.
Brits, Shimange and Smit will this weekend pull a cart loaded with provisions 200kms across the unforgiving dry salt pans of the Verneukpan in the Northern Cape which were used in 1929 by Malcolm Campbell in his unsuccessful attempt to break the land speed record in his Napier-Campbell Blue Bird.
Brits and his fellow hookers will not be trying to break any speed records. They are just looking to emerge victorious against teams from soccer, running and cricket in one of the biggest fundraising initiatives in South African history.
The initial aim was to raise 100m Rand (£4.4m) to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers but it has been decided the money will also go to support the families of those who have died while tackling the pandemic.
Taking time away from his preparations to avoid the scorpions and puff adders that are prevalent in the Verneukpan, the former Saracens hooker said: “The three of us are walking 200kms and this is right at the top of my sporting challenges.
“I’m more scared about the natural elements out there. It’s no fun with blisters, rashes and pulling the cart a long way. Originally it was planned to be in a game reserve in Botswana and then because of Covid-19, they moved it locally to the middle of nowhere.
“The plan was to help with PPE but in South Africa, we have had a lot of deaths in the medical fraternity and we are trying to raise as much money as possible for families who have lost loved ones who are the real heroes.
“They went to work knowing they could lose their life and that is the biggest reason for doing this. Butch James is captain of the team and my biggest worry is the guys are going to eat the food we are carrying before we get to the finish line.
“They are big human beings with big appetites. We’re sleeping out and the cart weighs 200kgs. My plan is to sit on the cart and ensure that John and Hanyani are at the right 45 degree angle to pull us forward.”
Cricket: Lance Klusener, Makhaya Ntini, Monde Zondeki – managed by Jonty Rhodes
Rugby: Hanyani Shimange, John Smit, Schalk Brits – managed by Butch James
Running: Bongmusa Mthembu, David Gatebe, Nick Bester – managed by Bruce Fordyce
Soccer: Matthew Booth, Siyabonga Nomvethe, Teko Modise – managed by Neil Tovey
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now