Willem Alberts says the decision to rejoin the Lions from France for the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season was not difficult.
Alberts moved back to Johannesburg after spending the last five years in France with Parisian club Stade Francais. He was initially doing fitness work at Ellis Park but after prolonged talks decided to sign for his former team.
The ‘Bone Collector’ could make his first run-out for his boyhood team since leaving the Lions for the Sharks in 2009.
While Alberts says his family had settled in France and were considering applying for citizenship, the chance to play for the Lions again was something he could not turn down.
‘The news out of our home country was not always positive and we were toying with the idea of possibly staying,’ Alberts said. ‘But when talks with the Lions started and the possibility of coming back to our family and friends and the familiar surroundings, it was not a difficult choice to make. It is one of the best places in the world with some serious problems.’
At 35 years old, there may be doubts over whether Alberts could adjust to the pace of Super Rugby again, but he credits medical teams in Paris and Johannesburg for allowing him to continue his career.
‘Through very good management from the medical team at Stade Francais, consisting of Andre Volsteed and Stef du Toit, they managed to keep this old diesel engine going for a while longer.
‘Since joining the Lions I know that they too have quality medical people to help me go many more miles in the red and white.
‘Sometimes I feel older when I have to roll out of bed in the mornings, but I am very excited about this new adventure and I truly wish I was a little younger to continue for much longer,’ Alberts added. ‘When I started my career I never thought I would be good enough to follow rugby as a career. Thanks to my first provincial coaches, Timmy Goodwin and Ian Macdonald, they made it all possible as they believed in me.’
The Lions began their 2020 Super Rugby campaign with a tough away loss to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. They are back at home this Saturday to face the Reds at Ellis Park.
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