Springboks

Springboks still likely to pick several England-based stars despite their late arrival

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Faf de Klerk (Gallo)
Faf de Klerk (Gallo)
  • The hassle of several England-based players only joining on Monday is unlikely to deter the Springboks from immediately pressing a number of those men into service against Wales on Saturday.
  • Premiership clubs bizarrely invoked Regulation 9 to the letter in blocking the relevant players despite England's domestic season ending on June 18.
  • Assistant coach Deon Davids admitted that the week would be crucial in "nailing the detail quickly", further suggesting men like Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager will start.

Despite several overseas-based stalwarts only joining up on Monday - a mere five days before the first Test against Wales at Loftus on Saturday - the Springboks look set to press several of them into action straight away.

Strict enforcement of World Rugby's Regulation 9 - the rule dictating when clubs must release their players for national duty - by the English clubs meant that men like Jasper Wiese, Andre Esterhuizen, Faf de Klerk, Vincent Koch and Lood de Jager were kept on a leash until this past weekend.

First-choice flyhalf Handre Pollard was also still in the thick of things helping his French club Montpellier win the Top14 title.

Bafflingly, only Wiese and Koch were still involved in the Premiership final between Leicester and Saracens on June 18, meaning that both men had been kicking their heels last week, while De Klerk, De Jager and Esterhuizen have been inactive even earlier.

It's in stark contrast to those players' English teammates being allowed to play in the Barbarians' exhibition against Eddie Jones' England.

READ | Bok star Pieter-Steph out of first Test against Wales

Sport24 understands that De Klerk and Koch were allowed to properly take their minds off the game last week, only returning to Johannesburg from a local hunting trip on Sunday afternoon ... as long as they didn't enter the Boks' Fourways base before then.

Nonetheless, national assistant coach Deon Davids intimated that South Africa would bank on those regulars' familiarity with the setup in including them immediately instead of testing some depth.

"We had some insightful discussions around that. We've looked at different things in terms of what we want to achieve in this first Test and what players would represent the right combinations which we feel, at this stage, will give us a good result," said Davids.

"Our thoughts centre around that." 

Given Jacques Nienaber and co's immense desire to balance an optimal build-up towards the World Cup with a 75%-plus overall winning ratio, that would suggest stability and continuity for the Loftus encounter.

"We're looking at all the players that are available. There are players who have come straight from the URC final last week and we didn't have our other players available due to Regulation 9," said Davids.

"This is actually the first week that we'll have everyone in camp and have those players involved. That means we'll have to really get the work in this week in order to get them going and getting the combinations going.

"We need to get the detail nailed in for Saturday. It's a very important week." 

The Springboks name their team on Tuesday.    

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