Powerhouse forward hopes to end eight-year Test hiatus and become oldest Springbok before retiring

Jared Wright
Springboks forward Pieter-Steph du Toit and Willem Alberts.

Springboks forward Pieter-Steph du Toit and Willem Alberts.

Lions forward Willem Alberts hopes that he will get one more opportunity to pull on the Springboks jersey before hanging up his boots.

The powerhouse loose forward is nearing his 40th birthday and has confirmed that he will be retiring at the end of the current United Rugby Championship.

However, he hopes to get one more shot in Green and Gold if Springbok boss Rassie Erasmus picks him.

One more Springbok cap

Alberts played 43 Test matches, scoring seven tries, since his try-scoring debut off the bench against Wales in 2010.

However, he has not played for South Africa since the 2016 match against Italy and hopes that his career will go full circle with a final cap against Wales – much like his club career, which started and will end with the Lions.

“It felt like a dream every time I played for the Springboks,” Alberts told South African newspaper Rapport.

“Scoring three tries in my first three matches (Wales, Scotland and England) is definitely a standout.”

Notorious Springboks hardman to hang up his boots at the end of the season

Alberts fell out of selection favour when he joined French Top 14 club Stade Francais after the 2015 World Cup. While players based abroad could still be selected for South Africa, the locally based players took preference.

“When I went overseas after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, it was difficult to get into the Bok squad while playing abroad; you didn’t get preference to be selected,” he added.

But Alberts adds that any South African player still actively playing professionally will also harbour hopes of pulling on the Green and Gold jersey again.

“If you play rugby, you always want to play for the Springboks, if they pick – I will play tomorrow,” he concluded.

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Last chance and oldest Springbok

South Africa will clash with Wales at Twickenham Stadium on June 22 and Erasmus will be unable to select any players based in France and England for the fixture.

While the Bok boss is likely to be able to select Japan-based players in his first game of his second tenure, he could be without players from two United Rugby Championship teams, with the competition’s final taking place on the same day.

This creates a unique opportunity which could see Alberts get one final run-out for the Boks and earn his 44th Test cap at the age of 40.

If he is do so, he would become the oldest Springbok player of all-time surpassing Victor Matfield’s record who earned his last cap at the age of 38 years and 172 days.

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Oldest Springboks players

Victor Matfield (38 years, 172 days)
Schalk Brits (38 years, 145 days)
Duane Vermeulen (37 years, 117 days)
Johan Ackermann (37 years, 34 days)
Morné Steyn (37 years, 34 days)
Deon Fourie (37 years, 33 days)
Boy Morkel (36 years, 258 days)
Deon Lotter (35 years, 277 days)
Frik du Preez (35 years, 252 days)
Flip Geel (35 years, 208 days)