‘Oupa’ Schalk Brits relishes childhood dream of captaining the Boks

Veteran Springboks hooker Schalk Brits (R) with fellow hooker and teammate Scarra Ntubeni (R) during the captains run at Loftus in Pretoria on August 16 2019.
Veteran Springboks hooker Schalk Brits (R) with fellow hooker and teammate Scarra Ntubeni (R) during the captains run at Loftus in Pretoria on August 16 2019.
Image: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Being named Springbok stand-in captain for the farewell Test match against Argentina at Loftus on Saturday is a classic case of better late than never for veteran Schalk Brits.

The 38-year-old Bulls hooker was this week given the responsibility of leading the Springboks in their last game before the Rugby World Cup – starting in Japan on September 20 – by coach Rassie Erasmus‚ which he described as a dream come true.

“Being named captain of the Springboks was never in my wildest dreams but it is a privilege and honour‚” he said during his captain’s press conference at the team’s base in Pretoria on Friday afternoon.

“To lead my country is one dream you have from a young age and it is coming true for me.

"It is going to be an amazing experience to lead a side like we have this weekend. Being part of this team is an honour because of the environment that we have created.”

Schalk Brits says he has never imagined himself captainig the Springboks.
Schalk Brits says he has never imagined himself captainig the Springboks.
Image: Springboks/Twitter

Brits‚ who said some of the younger players call him ‘Oom’ and ‘Oupa’‚ has been involved with the senior national team for just more than a decade‚ but has strangely earned just a dozen caps.

“I have been involved with the Boks since 2008 and I have only played 12 matches but every time I get selected to represent the country‚ even in a supporting role‚ it is an honour‚” he said.

“As a young boy growing up you always want to represent your country. Sometimes you can’t just by selection or whatever‚ but just being part of the squad is amazing. I have had a couple of ‘Ooms’ lately‚ but it is amazing to be part of this team.”

Brits said in Saturday’s Test he will consult with regular captain Siya Kolisi‚ who is making a return to the side after a long injury layoff and he has been unburdened with the leadership responsibilities.

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus is flanked hookers Schalk Brits (R) and Scarra Ntubeni at the team's base in Pretoria.
Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus is flanked hookers Schalk Brits (R) and Scarra Ntubeni at the team's base in Pretoria.
Image: Springboks/Twitter

“Siya [Kolisi] is still our captain and I am going to rely heavily on him in the game. From my perspective‚ we just want a complete team performance and if we can get that we will be happy as a team.

“For me as a player it will be rewarding to see the team play well - I never wanted to be captain.

“When I went abroad‚ a lot of people said it was about money but I wanted to experience something different.

Saracens was unbelievable for me as a family man with my kids‚ and I am trying to get them more to Afrikaans now.

“I retired and came back. I am grateful for having the second chance because I have friends even though they call me ‘Oom’ and ‘Oupa’.”


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