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Brits wants meaningful impact with Bulls

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019    Getty Images

Wing Travis Ismaiel, flankers Roelof Smit and Tim Agaba, fullback Warrick Gelant and loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka are all recovered from injuries and ready to play in the opening game of the season against the Stormers on February 16.

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Still out are first five-eighths Marnitz Boshoff, flanker Marco van Staden and hooker Edgar Marutlulle who will miss the opening month.

However, providing welcome experience at hooker will be international Brits who is enjoying the opportunity to push for a Rugby World Cup place at a time when he thought he had finished in the game.

He shapes as possibly the oldest player in the competition having made his first-class debut in 2002. He has played only 15 Tests for South Africa and much of his career has been based in England where between 2009 and 2018 he played 216 times for Saracens.

Brits had expected he had played his last game when making his final appearance for Saracens in England's Premiership last May. He had been looking to start an executive MBA at Cambridge.

But Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus came calling to have him as part of the national side.

Returning to South Africa with the intention then of joining the Stormers, his plans were upset by administrative issues and he got a place with the Bulls.

Facing their third coach in as many seasons, the Bulls are looking to turn their fortunes around this year by enjoying their rugby more.
"I think sometimes we can become too results-oriented in life and sport. For us at the Bulls, we just want to see growth as a group and to play better rugby each week," Brits told sarugbymag.co.za.

"Sometimes you have to experience hardship, but if you can keep the group together, then you can create success. At this early stage, my view is that if we can make sure our set piece and defence is good, we will have a chance [at being competitive]. Then slowly be surely we will hopefully get stronger as the competition goes on."

Brits said in response to criticism that it was unclear what his role might be in the Springbok squad and the amount of game time he might get: "I didn't play rugby to be a coach or play a mentorship role, that has just come with age, I guess. Some criticism has been thrown my way, and I've got no problem with that. But it's nice to be in a setup where I will hopefully get some decent game time.

"I'm not the player I was 10 years ago, or five years ago, or even last year. For me there is a constant drive to keep getting better as a player, and now I've got a platform to focus on my game, while also obviously hoping to add value where I can to a team that wants to be successful," he said.

"I know that I can't look further than the Bulls. If I don't play well for them, then I can't be selected for the Boks, it's as simple as that…The ball is in my court, and it's about what I do with it. If I play good rugby, I'll hopefully have a good shot at being selected. If not, then I will have to go another route.

"But there is a big drive in my last year to have a meaningful impact, and to leave a legacy, and for me that is to play good rugby and continue getting enjoyment from this wonderful game. I've got a second shot at having a go at playing in South Africa, and it's an unbelievable opportunity," he said.