South Africa have sprung a big surprise by adding hooker Schalk Brits to their squad ahead of the second Test against England, despite the former Saracens stalwart having retired from rugby at the end of the most recent domestic season.
Brits, who recently turned 37, ended his illustrious nine-year career with Saracens last month after coming off the bench to help the club regain their Premiership title courtesy of a 27-10 win over Exeter at Twickenham.
The former Stormers forward attended the Springboks' impressive 42-39 comeback victory over England in Johannesburg on Saturday as a fan on holiday and has now remarkably been called up by director of rugby Rassie Erasmus before the penultimate match of the three-Test series, which takes place at the Toyota Stadium next weekend.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed on Monday morning that Brits had already joined up with his team-mates in Bloemfontein, with Erasmus hopeful he can help the likes of No 8 Duane Vermeulen and versatile back Willie le Roux to mentor the squad's younger players as they look ahead to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
"We are busy with building experience, continuity and capacity towards the Rugby World Cup, so we want our young players rubbing shoulders with experienced players such as Duane Vermeulen and Willie le Roux," Erasmus said.
"I want Schalk to perform a similar role, because he has extensive inside knowledge and plenty of experience from playing for Saracens in the English and European conditions.
"It's a great way for our younger guys to learn the trade of international rugby from these guys."
Brits made his Springboks debut back in 2008 and earned the last of his 10 senior international caps at the 2015 World Cup in England, where South Africa finished third after losing to New Zealand in the semi-finals.
Erasmus, who started with Bongi Mbonambi at hooker at Ellis Park with Akker van der Merwe in reserve, will name his team for the second Test against England on Thursday.