The Stormers pack will be the best in the country within two years, according to new hooker Schalk Brits.
An injury to Hanyani Shimange early on in the Cape side’s encounter with the Cats on Saturday meant Brits could make an extended debut for his new franchise from the bench, and what he saw excited him.
“The pack we fielded on Saturday had an average age of 24,” Brits told keo.co.za. “We were up against a Cats pack who average around the 28 pack, and having played with them, believe me they are no easy beats. And yet in conditions condusive to tight forward play, we outplayed them. I promise you we have so much building to do, so give us two years, and we will be the best pack in the country if not the competition.”
“Look at our lock pairing of Ross Skeate and Andries Bekker. They are just outstanding. They’ve got so much to give to the game and going forward they are both future Springboks. Without a doubt.”
Brits’ optimism is not emphasised by hysterics. The measured tone of his voice indicates the sincerity of statements some would consider naive.
“I’ve just joined the side, but already I’ve felt the sting of criticism against us [the tight five], and we really want to prove a point. Everyone underestimates us, and I think we answered well on Saturday. We will show that you don’t have to be 30 to excel as a tight forward in this competition, that 24 year olds have matured and can make the same impact.”
Brits admitted to feeling “weird” turning out for the opposition at Ellis Park, but ultimately was satisfied with his contribution.
“Man I felt very weird. There was a completely different vibe when I got there, and a couple of people gave me a hard time. Sitting on the bench was quite amusing, with the crowd having a go. ‘Come back we need you’ was probably the nicest thing I heard! It was a good experience though.
“I really wanted to play against the Cats, and even though the game was plagued by a lot of mistakes, I enjoyed the experience. I had a typical hooker’s game, and hit a lot of rucks whilst concentrating on my scrumming and line-outs. When the game gets loose I’ll play loose, but that wasn’t needed on Saturday.”
Brits is set to start against the Waratahs, as Shimange struggles with a knock to the leg he picked up at Ellis Park. He relishes the challenge.
“It would be fantastic if I could start. The Aussies always do the basics well and play a nice running game, so hopefully it will suit me. Whether I start or come off the bench, I’m very confident for Saturday.”