Cape Town - Springbok hooker Schalk Brits could see himself playing as a loose forward at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
According to rugby journalist Brenden Nel, writing in Rapport on Sunday, head coach Rassie Erasmus is considering using the 38-year-old in the back row as part of a plan to manage his key players like Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit and captain Siya Kolisi at the tournament.
The Boks take on New Zealand in their World Cup opener in Yokohama on September 21 and then Namibia in their second match in Toyota on September 28. They will then have less than a week to prepare for a clash against Italy on October 4 that Erasmus considers a possible "banana peel", while they then close their group stage phase of the competition with a clash against Canada just four days later in Kobe on October 8.
It all means that Erasmus will have to box clever when it comes to keeping his first-choice players as fit and fresh as possible for when they are needed most, and with that in mind he could make a change that few would have predicted heading into the tournament.
"I know people will laugh about it, but even a guy like Schalk could end up in the loose trio to give us a chance to manage our players," Erasmus was quoted as saying in the article.
"Some of the games are played only four or five days apart and you can’t play Siya, Duane and Pieter-Steph again and again.
"Players who need to rest should not even be on the bench. We have chosen the World Cup squad in such a way that certain players will sometimes be able to be completely off. So, in some of the games, a guy like Schalk can even play No 8.
Brits will also offer Erasmus an alternative leadership option at the World Cup having captained against Argentina at Loftus last month.
- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard