Cape Town - Former Springbok loose forward Tim Dlulane has revealed that he made his international debut due to political interference.
Dlulane played one Test for the Springboks in 2004 when he came off the bench in their 38-36 win over Wales in Cardiff.
The 36-year-old made headlines this week when he hit out at his former union, the Bulls, who recently relieved him of his duties as team manager.
Dlulane claimed that the Bulls’ retrenchment process was a "smokescreen" and not transparent.
He has also questioned the Bulls’ commitment to transformation as four of the five men who lost their jobs are black.
Sport24 contacted Dlulane for an exclusive interview during which he said he stood by his initial viewpoint.
In the interview he was also probed about his memories as a Springbok, when he revealed that Jake White - the Springbok coach at the time - was forced to include him in the team by the South African government.
“I had the opportunity to live my dream and represent the Springboks. In terms of ability, I knew that I deserved to be there and was capable of playing at the highest level. I worked hard to reach that point and my dream came true when I took to the field to play against Wales in Cardiff," Dlulane said, before continuing: "However, to be clear, my selection for that Test was forced by government and, as much as I was capable, it was not then coach Jake White’s decision to include me. White had to back the government’s point of view. If there was no policy in place, I wouldn’t have been in the Springbok set-up.”
Dlulane lauded then SA Rugby president Brian van Rooyen's work.
“The reality is that black players weren’t afforded the same opportunities as their white counterparts. That was a given during my professional playing career and I’ll say that with authority. I will be forever grateful to Brian van Rooyen, who stood his ground and enforced policy, but he was not the favourite and his term was cut short. During his tenure, he stuck to his guns and once said to me: ‘Tim, as long as I’m SA Rugby president I’ll make sure that you are afforded equal opportunity.’”
Dlulane's career was cut short in 2006 when he sustained a serious neck injury in a Currie Cup game.