Eastern Province Elephants coach Peter de Villiers says they are training with the intention of participating in SA Rugby's upcoming Franchise Cup.
Recent reports indicated that SA Ruby was planning the event, likely to start in February, as a way for Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber to keep his top players match fit for the coming international season.
The four PRO16 Rainbow Cup teams - Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers - as well as the Cheetahs will feature but the Elephants are hoping they will also be included, as well as Currie Cup Premier Division outfits the Pumas and Griquas.
According to Netwerk24, SA Rugby will on Thursday make a call on the number of teams in the Franchise Cup.
EP mentor De Villiers told the Afrikaans publication they're hard at work in the event of being included.
"We're hoping... we're working with a goal in mind... working in the hope that we're included. We don't want to just arrive for the Olympic Games, we want to be on the podium," he said.
De Villiers added that he was yet to finalise his contracted squad but had some idea of the quality at his disposal.
"We have a lot of players here who are seeking the opportunity to prove that they're good enough. People normally go for the contracting of big names, but we're giving the players the opportunity to make a name for themselves. I've been with them for four weeks and have an idea which players we can take to the next level."
De Villiers, who coached the Springboks between 2008 and 2011, was named EP coach in December last year.
He fought off a shortlist that included former Varsity Cup-winning coaches Jonathan Mokuena and Kevin Musikanth, as well as ex-Bok coach Heyneke Meyer's former assistant Ricardo Laubscher and Deon Kayser.
It is De Villiers' first head coaching job in the senior provincial ranks in South Africa since being let go by SA Rugby when his four-year Bok term expired in 2011, following the Rugby World Cup quarter-final exit to the Wallabies.
Although he coached the University of Western Cape between 2013 and 2015, "Div" had found it tough getting coaching gigs domestically - sometimes accusing his former employers at Plattekloof of "blacklisting" him.
His last full-time job was as head coach of Zimbabwe's Sables, a tenure which ended in May 2019.
- Compiled by Sport24 staff