South Africa

‘Just another game’ – Willem Alberts ready for Benetton as career winds down

Willem Alberts 1

Lions stalwart Willem Alberts is preparing for their Challenge Cup last 16 clash against Benetton as he has for any other, despite the fact that it could be his last appearance in the competition as he prepares to retire at the end of the season.

The ‘Bone Collector’, as he is affectionately known, enjoyed a five-year stint playing in France from 2015 to 2020 and he will be bringing all that experience into the squad as they look to try and progress further in the competition.

He is, however, comfortable that the Lions have grown since his return to the franchise and that they will be fully prepared for the challenge in Treviso on Saturday.

“There is always emotion involved in rugby, but I think over the last five years I have been playing my last season, so I am quite used to that by now,” Alberts said with a smile.

“Since being back at the Lions I have helped the guys a lot in adapting to the European playing style. Over the last three-and-a-half years it has made a difference and you can see that in how we have adapted to the European competitions.

“But it is just another rugby game coming up where you have to do your best and make sure you have more points (than the opposition) on the scoreboard at the end of the game.”

Former Bok bruiser

The 39-year-old former Springbok bruiser has enjoyed a 19-year professional career that started at the Lions in 2005, before he moved on to the Sharks and Stade Francais, and then fittingly returned to where it all started in 2020.

He will now hope to end things off on a high, although he is very philosophical about it, admitting that whatever happens will happen and there is nothing left for him to achieve over his final few games.

“I am not a big milestone guy. I always just take it game by game and I just want to do my best. If it is meant to be I will end off on a high, but there is the old cliché that every game is your last game and like I said for the last five years that is how it has been,” explained Alberts.

“I just try to enjoy every single game and every time I get the opportunity (to put on the jersey). When you are at the end of the career it hits home a bit harder that every time you walk on the field it could be the last time.

“You never want to go onto a field and walk off and feel that you didn’t give everything for your team and teammates.

“I just try my best every single game and try to help the team wherever I can, whether it is playing or non-playing, so that I go out having the most fun I can have.”