Britz on a mission in Japan
SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: Don't be surprised if the Japanese teamsheet at the 2019 World Cup includes the name Willem Stephanus Britz. Jan de Koning reports.
Britz, 28, has played more than 100 first class games for various South African teams - including the Free State Cheetahs (domestic competitions), Cheetahs (Super Rugby), Griffons, Golden Lions (domestic competitions) and Lions (Super Rugby.
However, on the eve of his debut for Japan's Sunwolves in Super Rugby, Britz revealed to rugby365 that he has a dream of playing representative rugby for Japan in the future.
After two seasons with the Shining Arcs in Japan's Top League, Britz was asked to join the Sunwolves and signed a two-year contract with the Tokyo-based franchise.
"Coach Filo [Tiatia, Sunwolves head coach] and coach Jamie [Joseph, Japan coach] spoke to me," Britz said in a telephonic interview from Tokyo.
He said that he wants to help Japan, however he can.
"I want to give back for the great opportunity to be able to play here [for the past two seasons]," he told rugby365.
"They are such amazing people, that I want to share the bit of knowledge I have with these people."
Britz said the interest in the game of Rugby Union has increased since Japan's win over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.
"The people have developed a hunger for the game," the rangy loose forward said, adding: "It also affords me an opportunity to play Super Rugby with some great players.
"I do see myself taking this journey with the people of Japan."
While there is some uncertainty surrounding his immediate future with the Shining Arcs, he is hopeful of settling long enough to qualify to play for Japan - perhaps even when they host 2019 World Cup.
"I am busy talking to my club, but nothing has been finalised yet," he said, adding,"
"My contract [with the Shining Arcs] expires at the end of March, but I want to remain here [in Japan] as long as possible.
"Maybe one day I can play for Japan.
"It will take a few years [to qualify], but at this stage there is a bit of uncertainty surrounding my future."
While he has a two-year contract with the Sunwolves, his chances of playing for Japan will depend on World Rugby, the international governing body.
"It [qualifying for Japan] is a bit of a grey area," he said.
"There are talks of a new regulation by World Rugby, which may extend qualification [your stay in a country] from three to five years.
"If that is the case I will only qualify by 2020, so that all depends on what World Rugby decides."
By Jan de Koning