June 11, 2018 / 10:50 AM / 2 months ago

Rugby - Retired Brits added to Bok squad to bolster hooker options

BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - South Africa have added experienced former Saracens hooker Schalk Brits to their squad for the second test against England in Bloemfontein on Saturday, despite the player retiring from rugby last month.

FILE PHOTO: Saracens' Schalk Brits celebrates with the trophy after winning the Premiership Final in Twickenham, London May 26, 2018 Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

Brits, 37, linked up with the side on Monday as he seeks to play his first test since the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The Springboks began Saturday’s thrilling 42-39 victory over England with Mbongeni Mbonambi, making just a second start in his 15 tests.

There had been reports in local media that former skipper Adriaan Strauss would return to the side, but he has not been selected.

“We are busy with building experience, continuity and capacity towards the Rugby World Cup, so we want our young players rubbing shoulders with experienced players such as (number eight) Duane Vermeulen and (fullback) Willie le Roux,” Bok coach Rassie Erasmus said in a statement from South African Rugby on Monday.

“I want Schalk to perform a similar role, because he has extensive inside knowledge and plenty of experience from playing for Saracens in the English and European conditions. It’s a great way for our younger guys to learn the trade of international rugby from these guys.”

Brits has played only 10 tests since making his debut a decade ago, but the Boks have lacked experienced options at hooker after reigning South African Player of the Year, Malcom Marx, was ruled out of the series through injury.

Akker van der Merwe, earning his second cap, came off the bench against England at Ellis Park on Saturday, while Chiliboy Ralepelle also forms part of the squad.

The Bok team to play in the second test of the three-match series will be named on Thursday.

Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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