Vodacom Bulls hooker Schalk Brits says his return to South Africa has never been about proving himself to anyone.
Brits, who made 216 appearances in a 10-year period with Saracens, retired from the game after his contract with the Premiership club ended.
However, the 37-year-old was lured back to play for the Springboks by Rassie Erasmus last year, before deciding to join the Bulls with former Stormers teammate Duane Vermeulen for the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
With Brits only making one Test appearance last year, there were questions over whether the decision to bring him back into the international fold as a full-time player was the right one.
A strong start to his 2019 season, and a duel against incumbent Bok hooker Malcolm Marx on Saturday, was seen as a chance for Brits to prove a point.
Despite putting in a massive shift, contributing to the Bulls’ first victory at Ellis Park in four years, Brits told the media after the match that his motivation behind playing has never been about proving anybody right or wrong.
‘Actually, I don’t want to show anything,’ Brits said. ‘For me, it has always been about having fun. If you go way back, everyone always said I should prove to [former Springbok coach] Jake [White] that I should be in the team. It was never about that. It is about having fun with my teammates. If you win, then you win, if you lose, you lose.
‘For me, it is always about work ethic. Get out there, work hard and enjoy it and have physicality. I love the physical part of it. Actually, being on tour [with the Boks] and holding bags for six months, I miss being sore. After the game against the Stormers [in round one of Super Rugby], I couldn’t get out of bed and my wife asked me why I do this to myself. And it was just 37 minutes [of game time].
‘Still, the fun part is the biggest part of rugby. Even now, I am going to have a beer with Malcolm Marx. I want to bring the old school and professionalism together. People can’t lose that essence. You fight hard on the pitch and afterwards, you have fun. It has never been about proving anything to coach [Pote Human] or to Polly [Handré Pollard]. It is actually earning respect and having fun.’
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