Willem Alberts, AKA the bone collector. Image via @SportUpdatesSA on X

Ageless wonder: Willem Alberts defies time

Willem Alberts, the “Bone Collector,” shares his secret to rugby longevity as he approaches the end of his remarkable career with the Lions.


Willem Alberts, AKA the bone collector. Image via @SportUpdatesSA on X

Willem Alberts, affectionately known as the “Bone Collector” for his massive tackles and strong carries, has found the fountain of youth as he approaches the end of his illustrious career with the Lions.

At nearly 40 years old, the veteran enforcer continues to empty the tank on the pitch, inspiring his teammates and fans alike with his unwavering dedication and passion for the game.

Alberts’ Impressive Rugby Career

Alberts’ rugby journey spans an impressive 19 years, during which he earned 43 Test caps for the Springboks and participated in the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups.

His contributions to the national team and his club sides have been invaluable, cementing his status as a rugby legend.

As his contract with the Johannesburg-based Lions expires at the end of June, fans and teammates alike are reflecting on the impact he has made throughout his career.

Lions’ Playoff Aspirations

The Lions, currently sitting in 10th position on the Vodacom URC overall standings, still harbour hopes of securing a top-eight finish and a maiden appearance in the playoffs.

With Alberts’ leadership and experience, the team is determined to make a strong push in the final stretch of the season. A successful playoff run would be a fitting tribute to Alberts’ remarkable career and his lasting impact on the club.

The Bone Collector’s Inspiration

Speaking post-match at Ellis Park on Saturday, Alberts shared the secret to his longevity with SuperSport pundits Gcobani Bobo, Kaya Malotana, and Kobus Wiese.

“It’s an honour and privilege to still be able to play at this stage. It’s grace and mercy from above because the body is old but the mind is still strong, so I can still keep on going,” he said.

Alberts’ words serve as an inspiration to aspiring rugby players and fans, highlighting the importance of mental resilience and a deep love for the game.

Alberts’ Recipe for Longevity

Alberts attributes his long and successful career to his love for the game and his commitment to being a team player. “I love being a teamman and giving more to the team than I want to get out of the team. So that’s the recipe for it [longevity],” he explained.

This selfless attitude has endeared him to his teammates and coaches throughout his career, fostering a strong sense of camaraderie and unity within the teams he has represented.

The Bone Collector’s Youthful Spirit

Despite his age, Alberts remains young at heart, thanks in part to his interactions with his younger teammates. “It’s great for me to be able to play and train with these youngsters because that keeps me young as well,” he said.

This youthful spirit, combined with his wealth of experience, has made Alberts a valuable mentor to the next generation of rugby stars, ensuring that his legacy will continue long after he hangs up his boots.


As Willem Alberts enters the final stretch of his remarkable rugby career, his dedication, passion, and team-first mentality continue to inspire those around him.

The Bone Collector’s secret to longevity serves as a testament to the power of a strong mind and a deep love for the game.

As fans and teammates bid farewell to this rugby legend, his impact on the sport will undoubtedly be remembered for years to come.