Brits grateful for second chance as Boks captaincy dream comes true

By Sports Desk August 16, 2019

Schalk Brits described the chance to captain South Africa for the first time at the age of 38 as a "dream come true" and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity.

Brits has not started for the Springboks since 2008 and has just 12 caps to his name, but he will lead the side out against Argentina this weekend.

The Bulls hooker becomes his country's oldest first-time skipper and is relishing the opportunity.

Brits says he will rely on regular captain Siya Kolisi for advice and hopes he can justify the "unbelievable honour" of being involved.

"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," he told reporters 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 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."

Happy just to be back in the side, having last year returned from a lengthy spell at Saracens, Brits added: "Being back in the country and then part of the squad is unbelievable.

"I am really grateful, every day, for having a second chance."

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    The flanker was left in pain following a collision with Cian Healy in the first half in Yokohama and faces a nervous wait to discover the results of a scan.

    Magnus Bradbury is set to be called into the squad if Edinburgh team-mate Watson is ruled out of the tournament, having travelled to Japan as cover for Jamie Ritchie.

    Scotland coach Gregor Townsend admitted the signs are not encouraging for the 27-year-old, who had made an impressive 14 tackles before going down.

    "Hamish is our only injury concern," Townsend said at his post-match news conference.

    "He had a knee injury that we will hopefully be getting more information on tonight with a scan.

    "It doesn't look good when a player is stretchered off the field, so hopefully we'll know more later tonight.

    "It would be bad luck for any player if he misses the World Cup. We had Sam Skinner miss out on selection ahead of the World Cup. But we have always presumed that there will be people who will miss the World Cup after each game that we play.

    "Let's hope that's not the case with Hamish."

    Townsend confirmed fellow flanker Ritchie, 23, would be fit for the country's second Pool A game against Samoa.

    Scotland will need all the good news they can get after giving up four tries - including two in the opening 15 minutes - against a far superior Ireland.

    Townsend said: "It's disappointing. We didn't start with the energy, accuracy and aggression that is required to beat a team like Ireland. They took their chances well when they got into our 22.

    "If you give any team in world rugby a 15 to 20-point start it is going to be very difficult to come back.

    "We must play much better in our next three games if we are going to get out of our pool and progress into the quarter-finals and I believe we will be."

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: England boss Eddie Jones sees room for improvement Rugby World Cup 2019: England boss Eddie Jones sees room for improvement

    Eddie Jones said he was "pretty happy" after England began their Rugby World Cup campaign with a 35-3 victory over Tonga in Sapporo.

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    Manu Tuilagi led the way for England as Eddie Jones' side began their Rugby World Cup campaign with a convincing 35-3 victory over Tonga.

    Tuilagi was not selected for Stuart Lancaster's 2015 World Cup squad after he admitted to assaulting two police officers, though he made up for lost time in England's opening Pool C match in Sapporo.

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    Tuilagi, a Samoan native, became the first foreign-born player to score in three different World Cup matches for England with his first try, having also gone over in two games during the 2011 tournament.

    He missed the shambiolic 2015 World Cup campaign but was in superb form from the off on Sunday, displaying pace, power and skill. Should he maintain this level of performance, England could have a contender for player of the tournament in their ranks.

    Vunipola's shaky start

    It was a momentous day for Billy Vunipola, whose father Fe'ao featured for Tonga at the 1995 and 1999 World Cups, and the England eight would have been eager to impress.

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    What's next?

    The United States are next up for England on Thursday in Kobe, while Tonga face Argentina two days later.

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