PRETORIA – Wearing a smile stretching from ear to ear, veteran Springbok hooker Schalk Brits shook almost every journalist’s hand on his way to the captain’s press conference in Pretoria on Friday.
The inimitable Brits is famous for his happy-go-lucky attitude, but he had an extra skip in his step after he was named as the Springbok captain for Saturday’s Farewell Test against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld.
“It is a massive privilege and very unexpected, but to lead your country is one dream that came true, and it’s going to be amazing to lead an unbelievable team,” Brits said.
“For me, being part of the Springboks is such a huge honour.
“I’ve been involved with the Springboks since 2008 and only played 12 Test matches, but every time I get selected, or even performing a supporting role, it’s an unbelievable honour.”
Brits will become the second oldest Bok captain at 38 years and three months, while he will earn his first start since 2008.
Victor Matfield holds the record as the oldest player to lead Boks out into battle when he wore the captain’s armband against Argentina in the bronze-medal match at the 2015 Rugby World Cup at 38 years and 172 days old.
Brits said he was just warming the seat for regular Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, who will be making a cameo appearance as he is phased back into action following a long injury layoff.
“Siya (Kolisi) is still our captain, and I am going to rely heavily on him and the other leaders in our team,” Brits said.
“From my perspective, we just want a complete team performance, and if we can get that right, then I think we will be happy as a team.”
Brits believed it would take the first couple of minutes of the match for the combinations to settle, but hoped they would be able to execute the game plan they have worked on for the game.
“We want to put a performance together that the supporters, my teammates and the coaching staff would be proud of,” Brits said.
Rassie Erasmus and Schalk Brits, captain, with Scarra Ntubeni who is set to make his Springbok debut off the bench vs Argentina on Saturday at Loftus.#Springboks#StrongerTogether@MTNza @[email protected] pic.twitter.com/5Vh4Rb7chu— Springboks (@Springboks) August 16, 2019