PRETORIA (Reuters) – South Africa stand-in captain Schalk Brits has urged his team mates to give coach Rassie Erasmus a major selection headache in Saturday’s one-off test against Argentina Loftus Versveld, ahead of the announcement of the 31-man World Cup squad.
Brits, 38, will lead a completely new starting XV from the side that beat Argentina 46-13 in Salta last weekend to lift the Rugby Championship as Erasmus gives a number of players the opportunity to book a ticket to Japan.
“As a player you can’t determine selection, but what you can do is control your attitude,” Brits told reporters. “We have put a lot of hard work into this team going out there tomorrow and I have learnt that if the team does well, then the probability is higher that you get selected.
“We just want to put in a performance together that our team mates will be proud of.”
The Boks were in complete control of the scrums in Salta last weekend, one of their keys to victory, and with both sides having made considerable changes to the pack for Saturday’s test, Brits says it is important they maintain that dominance.
“People enjoy seeing tries, but I like penalties at scrum time,” Brits said. “The scrum is the beauty of rugby, you can’t hide and if you don’t do your work, you get pressed into a little bin.”
Brits is expecting a backlash from the visitors, who are also fighting for their World Cup places as the team stumbles on an eight-game winless run.
“I have played with a couple of Argentines at Saracens and they are a proud country, They will be hurting from last weekend’s performance. I definitely think they are coming here to prove a point,” he said.
“They are fighting hard for positions and it will be a tough match. They may change on certain technical things, but in essence they are very physical, hard-working team.”
Brits, who retired from rugby in May 2018 but was coaxed back by Erasmus, will become the second oldest Bok captain after former lock Victor Matfield, and admits to his surprise at being handed the role for the game.
“I’m gutted, Victor pips me by just a couple of days,” he joked. “But not in my wildest dreams did I believe I would captain the Boks. It is a massive privilege and very unexpected.
“I really am grateful for having a second chance to be part of an unbelievable team.”
(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)