Veteran hooker Schalk Brits is set for a dramatic recall to Test rugby against England after Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus indicated he would feature in the third Test at Newlands on Saturday.
Brits‚ who had a distinguished career with the Stormers at Newlands, is 37 years old and is unlikely to soldier on much longer, but Erasmus is not willing to write off his Test future just yet.
The coach believes that Brits could be the perfect player to call on in a World Cup emergency and that he has already added huge value to the squad in the week he has been in camp.
The Springboks wrapped up the series with a 23-12 win last Saturday‚ giving Erasmus leeway to experiment.
Erasmus said in Cape Town on Monday: "Schalk comes into the reckoning for sure.
"He will probably start off the bench. He is definitely one of those guys we want to test.
"Although he is 37 now I can see him playing on if he wants to. His plan was to retire, but after this weekend we will have a good sit-down and see where we are with depth.
"We have seen in previous World Cups that you need good cover in certain positions.
"Nine‚ 10‚ hooker, No5, lock and fullback are those areas that need depth because if you lose players in those positions a month before the World Cup‚ you need reserves. In Chiliboy [Ralepelle]‚ Bongi [Mbonambi]‚ Akker [Van der Merwe] and Malcolm Marx we have four really solid hookers. We wanted to look at Bismarck du Plessis but the timing didn’t work out.
"Schalk is the type of guy who could play until he is 38 and one more season wouldn’t be impossible. But we will have to take stock after this series and make a decision.
"If we need to call his number for the World Cup we would want to be able to do that. He does have to keep playing rugby somewhere though. If he stops playing rugby then it wouldn’t work, but if he keeps playing we are allowed to pick anyone playing anywhere. But this is all in the future. We will see about his future after this Saturday.
"The European experience he has‚ and his overall experience‚ has helped younger hookers such as Akker. And if this weekend is the last‚ then Schalk’s purpose with us has still been fulfilled."
Brits last played for the Boks against the US at the 2015 World Cup where he was the third choice behind Du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss.
It is unlikely that he will make it to the World Cup in Japan in 2019‚ but stranger things have happened.
Erasmus pointed out that the All Blacks had to call flyhalf Stephen Donald from a holiday as their fifth-choice flyhalf in the 2011 World Cup.
Now that the series is in the bag‚ Erasmus has indicated he will make changes and having mentioned the positions he sees as vital to the World Cup‚ those positions could see changes.
Scrumhalf Embrose Papier could come on to the bench for Ivan van Zyl, while lock Marvin Orie could also have another taste of Test rugby off the bench, he said.
"The weather will influence selection and we will make a few changes. Some guys will fit in better because of that, so there will be four or five changes.
"We want to try a few new things and put some players under pressure of a Test match environment and this is a chance to do that," Erasmus said.