Brilliant Brits hits 200 mark for Saracens
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Hooker hoping to end on a high
It has been a remarkable season for Saracens on and off the pitch, with a Premiership semi-final and Champions Cup final to look forward to, as well as having six British & Irish Lions tourists heading to New Zealand.
At the heart of the success is the experience and wisdom of such players that have devoted large parts of their career to the club. The players that know how to pull together through testing times and know how to win.
Saracens hooker Schalk Brits has been at the centre of the club’s league and maiden European wins in recent years and the 35-year-old’s 200th appearance in the 27-9 win over Bristol is a fine reward for such an achievement.
Brits becomes only the 10th player in the club’s history to become a double centurion and said: “I guess it just comes along. It’s special to be involved here and I’ve always just enjoyed what I do and when I stop enjoying it I stop playing.
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“Unfortunately, you can’t go on forever and I’m close to finishing up but so far it’s been an unbelievable journey.
“Of course, it’s been a great time on the pitch, winning trophies, winning tough games but it’s not always the rugby that’s the proud moments, it’s the friends I’ve made. At some time I’ll finish my rugby but these friends will be the highlight of my time here.
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“In 10 years’ time people won’t remember this specific game but they’ll remember those players, the friendships – it’s a weird way of looking at it.”
Brits first arrived in north London in 2009, having joined from Super Rugby franchise The Stormers, and immediately knew Saracens would have an impact on his career.
“They treat us unbelievably well here and that in turn allows you to work unbelievably hard and it’s always been a motto that’s paid off,” he added.
“They’ve given us time with our families and they take us to places I’ve never been to and not just for rugby – to spend time and to grow bonds between each other.
“That time is special and you can’t take that time back. But then I must say we’ve grown Saracens as a brand. We grew Saracens, we grew rugby and hopefully we can be good ambassadors for rugby and get more people involved. It’s great that we’re doing something very special.
“The beauty of Allianz Park is not actually just the rugby, it’s the kids before and the kids after. It’s the family environment where the whole family can come and have fun.”
With veterans Kelly Brown and Neil de Kock bidding farewell to Allianz Park following Saturday’s victory, Brits was quick to heap the praise on two of the club’s finest.
“They’re just two unbelievable blokes who represent rugby,” he said. “We met as complete strangers and now eight years later it’s going to be sad to say goodbye to two unbelievably good friends. They will be missed, from my life and from the [team] environment.
“‘Kocky’ has led our team, Kelly’s led our team and they’ve been unbelievable characters and they will be missed.
“In five or 10 years, I can tell my boys to look up to these two and if my kids can grow up to be like them I’ll be a very happy individual.”
Despite Brits’ illustrious journey with the club, the Sarries hooker is confident more memories will be made in the coming weeks.
“It takes a lot to compete at both European and domestic [levels]. We’ve learnt that lesson a couple of years ago when we went for both finals and didn’t get any,” he said.
“It’s going to be very hard but we can make history from our point of view. We’ll always see Toulouse as fantastic, Toulon was fantastic and Munster was fantastic.
“You can’t determine success by the bounce of the ball, we determine success by how much we’ve grown. We’ve never actually spoken from the beginning to become champions. That’s never been the goal.
“Our goal is to improve our organisation, from coaching, to players and so far, we’ve been successful. Our challenge is to keep doing it this year and next year for the academy boys to come through.”
A successive double-winning season will see Saracens ranked amongst the best in history and Brits’ contribution will play a key part – starting with Wasps on Saturday to determine the venue for the Premiership semi-final.