Schalk Brits handed surprise South Africa call up ahead of second England Test

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.

Brits retired after Saracens’ Aviva Premiership final victory over Exeter but has unexpectedly been called up by Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus.

The 37-year-old linked up with the squad 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 Bongi Mbonambi, making just a second start in the No 2 jersey 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 Duane Vermeulen and Willie le Roux,” said Erasmus.

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

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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, Malcolm 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 South Africa team to play in the second Test of the three-match series will be named on Thursday.

Will England bounce back in the second Test? Tune into Sky Sports Action and Main Event from 3pm on Saturday June 16 to follow the Rose on England’s journey to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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