Schalk Brits is poised to make his Test comeback in a Springbok team that will show four or five changes for Saturday’s clash at Newlands, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Cape Town.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus has made no secret of the fact that he will look to test out some different combinations and players in this weekend’s third and final Test against England, and at Monday’s press conference at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, he confirmed Brits would be one of them.
‘Schalk will definitely come into the reckoning for this game, it just depends whether that will be in a starting role or from the bench. Hooker is one of the key positions where you want to be sure of the options you have if there are some injuries close to or at a World Cup. Schalk is one of the guys who we want to test.’
It’s set to mark a sensational return to international action for Brits, who played his last of 10 Tests for the Boks back in 2015, while just a couple of weeks ago he was enjoying a holiday in Ibiza after heading into retirement.
However, the unavailability of Bismarck du Plessis led to a surprise Bok recall for Brits, who has hardly been able to take the smile off his face ever since joining the squad in camp last week.
It remains to be seen whether the 37-year-old will really have a role to play for the Springboks beyond Saturday’s Test, but Erasmus said you just never knew.
‘Obviously, his plan was to retire, so after this weekend we will see where we are in terms of depth and experience. With the likes of Malcolm [Marx], Bongi [Mbonambi], Chiliboy [Ralepelle] and Akker [van der Merwe], we have four solid hookers who are pushing each other hard.
‘We wanted to look at Bismarck, but the timing didn’t work out. If you ask me, I think Schalk can play to [the age of] 38, and there is no reason why he couldn’t play one more season, but we first need to take stock after this series.
‘The fact is, Schalk has already had a big influence with his European experience, while the young hookers in the squad have been able to learn from him. So whatever the case may be after June, his purpose has already been fulfilled.’
Besides Brits’ inclusion in the Boks’ match 23 this week, Erasmus confirmed that there would be a few other changes that would be made both with the weather conditions and long-term planning in mind.
‘We will make some changes for this weekend’s Test, not because we’ve already won the series, but because there is also a bit of wet weather expected on Saturday, and some guys will be better suited to those conditions.
‘We also want to give some guys opportunities as part of our plans before the World Cup, but of course, we also need to balance team selection with continuity. We have built up a little bit of momentum now after two wins, and we don’t want to lose that by making wholesale changes, but there will be four or five in all likelihood.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 18, 2018