Six leading Boks playing abroad lose SA contracts

2013-04-25 00:00

THE six leading South African rugby players who have recently signed with overseas clubs have lost Springbok contracts.

The South African Rugby Union (Saru) yesterday announced a squad of 15 contracted players, but half-a-dozen high profile Springboks, including world-class wings Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen, were not considered.

The other four who have signed for overseas clubs are Andries Bekker, Juandré Kruger, Morné Steyn and Zane Kirchner.

Saru CEO Jurie Roux confirmed that all six would have been awarded national contracts.

“The fact that they have indicated that they have signed with overseas clubs, or are planning to do so, has ruled them out of the reckoning,” said Roux.

The many Springboks already based overseas were also not considered.

A South African official who has been involved in the negotiations told T he Witness that “overseas clubs are paying the players twice what they would receive for their Springbok contracts”.

“They have signed with clubs overseas knowing that it would cost them a Springbok contract.”

Roux said Saru, concerned at the many players leaving the country, had tried to retain talent by offering Springbok contracts.

“We’ve kept as many of our top players in South Africa as we could by awarding them national contracts, despite the powerful lure of the pound, euro and yen,” said Roux.

“We worked hard with the Springbok management and Sarpa [the players’ association] to ensure the best possible deal is placed on the table for the players. A further five contracts are still available and will be finalised in due course.

“Last year provided Heyneke Meyer with an ideal opportunity to see what is needed in the Test arena, and by contracting this group of players, we have secured a core group for 2013. The average age of the contracted group [26] is not very high for Test rugby, which bodes well for the future.”

Among those who have received Springbok contracts are the Du Plessis brothers, injured hooker Bismarck and prop Jannie, and that is good news for the Sharks after reports surfaced that they were negotioating to move to a club in France.

The Sharks have seven of the 15 with Frans Steyn, Pat Lambie, Williem Alberts, Beast Mtawarira and Marcel Coetzee and the Du Plessis brothers.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said yesterday he was disappointed that six players were not considered.

“Losing experienced players to overseas teams is not ideal, but it’s their right to further their careers abroad.”

He remained positive about the 15 in the contracted group.

“Most of these players showed last year they have what it takes to play for the Springboks and they can only get more experienced and improve further,” he added.

SPRINGBOK CONTRACTED PLAYERS

Willem Alberts (Sharks), Marcell Coetzee (Sharks), Juan de Jongh (Western Province), Jean de Villiers (Western Province), Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), Eben Etzebeth (Western Province), Francois Hougaard (Blue Bulls), Pat Lambie (Sharks), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Pierre Spies (Blue Bulls), Frans Steyn (Sharks), Adriaan Strauss (Free State), Flip van der Merwe (Blue Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Western Province).

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