Schalk Brits says that the Springboks will use the game against Namibia to continue their evolution towards a more balanced approach. JON CARDINELLI in Toyota City reports.
Rassie Erasmus has made 13 changes ahead of the Boks’ second World Cup pool clash against Namibia. Brits has taken over the captaincy for this game – with regular skipper Siya Kolisi starting from the bench – and will feature from the unfamiliar position of No 8.
The Bok captain’s run on Friday afternoon was delayed by 45 minutes due to the heavy traffic coming into Toyota City. As a result, Brits was late for the subsequent captain’s press conference and was forced to make a Cosmo Kramer-type entrance.
‘Hi everybody,’ he cheered as he took a seat alongside wing Cheslin Kolbe and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick at the elevated top table. ‘How’s everybody doing this afternoon?’
Brits spoke about his decision to come out of retirement last year, what the Boks want to achieve at this World Cup, as well as the opportunity to start a Test at No 8.
After spotting Jean de Villiers at the back of the press room, Brits took the opportunity to have a bit of fun at the former Bok captain’s expense.
‘I could be working an eight-to-five desk job right now, like Jean de Villiers,’ he said with a smile. ‘But I can’t always play for the Boks. I’m happy to be here and I don’t regret my decision to come back for one second.’
It was a different sort of press conference that showcased Brits’ unique energy and what he brings to the team environment.
When the conversation turned back to the rugby, Brits was open and honest about what the Boks are looking to achieve against Namibia on Saturday.
‘The boys that have been selected will be looking to make the most of their opportunity. It’s also about continuing a process that we started early last year.
‘We’ve made a lot of improvements since then and we’ve got to make sure that we continue to grow during this tournament. I feel like we can do wonders at this World Cup.’
The Boks are expected to beat Namibia by a comfortable margin on Saturday. While Brits was full of fun at the pre-match press conference, he confirmed that the team is not taking their task lightly.
‘I was involved with the squad that lost to Japan at the 2015 World Cup,’ he said. ‘We know that we can’t take anything for granted.
‘The training sessions have been intense throughout the week. We have to make sure that we are physically and mentally ready.’
Brits hasn’t played No 8 since he was part of the Stormers’ set-up eight years ago. Francois Louw, Kwagga Smith and Brits have not started together in the Bok back row before.
‘It’s probably the shortest loose trio in world rugby,’ Brits joked. ‘But things have been looking good in training and we’re excited about playing together on Saturday.’
Photo: Steve Haag Sports via Hollywoodbets