Cape Town - There could be a big exodus of South African players after this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Afrikaans newspaper Rapport indicated on Sunday that about 55 of the country's top rugby players have yet to sign deals with their Super Rugby franchises.
Fourteen of them are reported to have already signed deals with overseas teams.
The 14 players are Stormers trio Eben Etzebeth (Toulon, France), EW Viljoen (Leicester Tigers, England) and Dillyn Leyds (Wasps, England); Bulls quartet RG Snyman (Honda Heat, Japan), Eli Snyman (Treviso, Italy), Hendre Stassen (Stade Francais, France) and Duane Vermeulen (Kubota Spears, Japan); Sharks quintet Jacques Vermeulen (Exeter Chiefs, England), Akker van der Merwe, Jean-Luc du Preez, Dan du Preez and Robert du Preez (all Sale Sharks, England); and Lions duo Stephan Lewies (Harlequins) and Nic Groom (Edinburgh, Scotland).
Springboks who are yet to sign contract extensions locally and in high demand overseas include the likes of Malcolm Marx, Warren Whiteley and Elton Jantjies (all Lions), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe (all Stormers), Lood de Jager and Handre Pollard (both Bulls), Tendai Mtawarira and Curwin Bosch (both Sharks).
It has become clear that it will be tough for SA Rugby to keep many of the top Springboks from plying their trade abroad.
However, these players will not be lost for the national team as SA Rugby is committed to enforcing Regulation 9 - a World Rugby ruling that forces clubs to make their international players available during the Test match windows for up to 14 weeks a year.