Jan 07, 2016
"He is the real Schalk, the big Schalk"
Schalk Brits as hailed the signing of Springbok teammate Schalk Burger, after Saracens announced that the 86-cap South African flanker will be heading to Allianz Park for the 2016/17 season earlier this week.
Saracens hooker Brits, who has been a lifelong friend of Burger and has shared the pitch with the legendary back row forward for Western Province, Stormers and the Springboks, believes Burger’s arrival in north London will be invaluable for the club’s younger stars.
“You sign experienced guys like Schalk, not just for his playing capabilities, but for his intellectual property, if you can say that,” said Brits. “He brings a lot more than just what he can do on the pitch.
"It’s actually just how much the other guys want to learn, as I know Schalk - he’s a guy who would always want to help the young and upcoming guys and if they’ve got questions he’ll always answer them and he’ll always have time. I really believe it will be invaluable how important Schalk will be for us.
“He’s been at four World Cups, he’s won a World Cup. He’s experienced it all really. He’s played rugby in the Southern hemisphere, in Japan, now he’s coming to the Northern hemisphere. He’s had so many twists. He almost lost his life. He’s really had it all. Now he knows life is short, that it can be taken away. He was at one stage where there was a big possibility of him never ever playing rugby again, he was just fighting for his life and now he’s playing again. He’s worn the green and gold and soon he’s going to wear the Saracens shirt. Not only the players will experience it but definitely the supporters will experience it as well. He’s a very a calm persona and a great guy to have around."
Brits and Burger both attended Stellenbosch University as youngsters and were both products of the Western Province academy system. Much like Brits himself, Burger is an amiable character off the pitch, and this is something Saracens’ 34-year old hooker believes will be one of the reasons Burger will be the perfect fit for the reigning Aviva Premiership champions.
“It’s great to have him around. We’ve played rugby for a very, very long time together. We always sat next to each other in the changing room. Always laid back and sort of the same philosophy or approach to the game, it’s just going to be great.
“He is the real Schalk, the big Schalk. Off the pitch, probably the most relaxed guy I’ve known. He enjoys life, he loves talking, and he loves socialising. He’s just a great bloke, a great guy to be around and spend time with. On the pitch his personality is more like the ‘Hulk’.
“Off the pitch he is so relaxed, on the pitch he’s a demon. He keeps on going, he’s great to play with - that’s probably why we signed him, that’s why he’s received so many awards during his career. On the pitch, he’s just a pleasure to play with.”
Brits added: “He puts his heart and soul in to the game, whatever jersey he puts on. It’s about a pride thing for him and I think its great signing.”