Former Springbok Willem Alberts busts a few moves.

Former Springbok Willem Alberts busts a few moves. Photo: Screenshot.

Springbok ‘Bone Collector’ to draw curtain on illustrious 19-year career

Veteran Springbok Willem Alberts has announced his plan to retire from the game at the end of the current season.

Former Springbok Willem Alberts busts a few moves.

Former Springbok Willem Alberts busts a few moves. Photo: Screenshot.

The Bone Collector, Willem Alberts’ 19-year professional career will come to an end later this year following the completion of the Lions’ season across all competitions.

Alberts, who is part of the Lions squad for the two-match URC tour and EPCR Challenge Cup playoff, told Sunday newspaper Rapport that he is in the twilight of his playing career.

The soon to be 40-year-old, said he will not be seeking a contract renewal or extension when his current deal with the Lions comes to an end in June.

Having made his debut for the Lions back in 2005, Alberts played for the Sharks and Stade Francais before returning to Ellis Park in 2020.

“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,” Alberts told Rapport.

“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 played 43 Tests for the Springboks, with his final cap coming against Italy in Florence in 2016. He was part of the 2011 and 2015 World Cup squads.


With the Lions still in contention for URC and Challenge Cup honours this season, they’re a chance that Alberts might end his career on a high note.

He is currently on tour with the Lions, and while Alberts didn’t feature in Saturday’s epic win against Connacht in Galway, he could still face Cardiff, where he made his Springbok debut, and Benetton in the Challenge Cup round of 16 over the next couple of weeks.


Connacht — 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 David Hawkshaw, 12 Cathal Forde, 11 Andrew Smith, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Caolin Blade (captain), 8 Sean O’Brien, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Niall Murray, 3 Jack Aungier, 2 Tadgh McElroy, 1 Denis Buckley.
Subs: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Sam Illo, 19 Darragh Murray, 20 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 21 Colm Reilly, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Paul Boyle.

Lions — 15 Quan Horn, 14 Richard Kriel, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 JC Pretorius, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 PJ Botha, 1 JP Smith.
Subs: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Morgan Naudé, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Darrien Landsberg, 20 Izan Esterhuizen, 21 Hanru Sirgel, 22 Morné van den Berg, 23 Stean Pienaar.

Lions Challenge Cup in Paris Willem Alberts
Willem Alberts starts for the Lions in the Challenge Cup in Paris. Photo: SA Rugby.