When Schalk Brits formally retired in May 2018, he started preparing for life as a ‘student’.
He had enrolled for an MBA with Cambridge University, after winning the Premiership with Saracens.
However, on Saturday Brits will lead the Springboks out onto Loftus Versfeld for a Test match against Argentina – something he did not contemplate more than a year ago.
In doing so, he will become the oldest man make his first Springbok captain’s appearance in a Test – and he is close to other records.
He will become the oldest debut captain, passing Boy Morkel’s mark set in 1921.
Brits will be 38 years, two months and 24 days old.
Brits described the Springbok captaincy as his ‘wildest dream’ come true.
“To lead my country is one dream that has come true for me and it’s going to be amazing to lead out this group of players representing our country and the Springboks,” a beaming Brits told the media in Pretoria on Friday.
“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.
“Siya [Kolisi] is still our captain and I am going to rely heavily on him and the other leaders in our team.
“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 was a stalwart for the Cape Town-based Stormers and then joined English club Saracens where he has attained almost cult-like status.
He returned to South Africa after his contract in England ended and came out of retirement to join the Bulls for the 2019 Super Rugby campaign, after which he was called up to the Springboks.
“Being back in the country and then part of the squad is unbelievable and I am really grateful, every day, for having a second chance,” said Brits.
Siyabonga Ntubeni is set to make his Springbok debut off the bench on Saturday, and Brits had a few words of encouragement for the Western Province hooker – whom he described as “a great rugby player and even a better person”.
“I’ve seen Scarra from a young age and although I’m very grey, he is getting more grey than me! It’s amazing to see a guy like that has been in the trenches, had a lot of injuries and coming through the system,” said Brits.
“I’m backing him and he’s backing me up tomorrow. To learn everything in one week is tough but he is a clever player so I can’t wait to see him the Green and Gold and I hope he puts in a performance [when he gets onto the field] that is unbelievable.”
The post Not In My Wildest Dreams – Brits appeared first on iAfrica.com.