Bok powerhouse Willem Alberts to hang up his boots after one final flourish

Bok powerhouse Willem Alberts to hang up his boots after one final flourish

Veteran forward Willem Alberts has confirmed he will not be extending his Lions contract at the end of the season, bringing the curtain down on a stellar 19-year career.

Alberts who was commonly referred to as 'The Bone Collector' thanks to his brutal physicality on both sides of the ball, made his professional debut for the Lions in 2005 and is pleased to come full circle at the end of his career.

The 39-year-old played 43 Test matches for the Springboks after making a try-scoring debut off the bench against Wales in 2010, scoring seven tries in all. He played in both the second and back row and also featured for the Sharks and Stade Francais where he was also lauded for his extreme physicality.

Alberts admitted to the Rapport that the prospect of retiring was a difficult one but is happy to be finishing off where it all started.

"It's always in the back of a guy's head. It's going to happen, and you have to stop playing somewhere, but you hardly want to believe it," he said.

"The circle is almost complete now. I started with the Lions as a young man and to be able to finish it now is a really nice story and feeling."

Alberts said his time with the Springboks was the highlight of his career by some margin.

"It felt like a dream every time I played for the Springboks," he said.

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

Alberts fell out of favour with the Bok selectors after joining French Top 14 club Stade Francais following the 2015 World Cup. While players based abroad could still be selected for South Africa, 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.

Alberts has the opportunity to go out with a bang as the Lions have shown great form this season, marching into the United Rugby Championship playoff spots after beating Connacht in Galway.

It would be incredible to see the Johannesburg side feature in the playoffs and secure Champions Cup qualification for next season.

The Lions also face URC colleagues Benetton in the Challenge Cup playoffs in two weeks, and Alberts will be looking to help out where possible in the hopes of bringing silverware to Johannesburg for the first time.