Sat, 18 Sep 2021

  • The Springbok coaching staff won't complain if Sale Sharks, who boast a number of national players, progress so far in the English Premiership that their stars can't be considered for the opening Test against Georgia.
  • Rassie Erasmus, national director of rugby, noted that Sale are one of the foreign clubs with a great relationship with SA Rugby and allow them to consistently engage with their Boks.
  • He also said that SA Rugby will in future advise players on whether overseas offers would be good for their Springbok prospects.

Springbok management won't have any complaints if a large chunk of their overseas-based players only enter the national camp less than a week before the first Test against Georgia on July 2.

As things stand, Sale Sharks lie second on the English Premiership points table and are assured of a play-off spot, with the distinct possibility of reaching the final on June 26.

Steve Diamond's charges are of particular interest to the national coach, Jacques Nienaber, as they have a glut of internationals on their books.

READ | Eben Etzebeth takes aim at 'massive' Lions tour: 'I'll be ready for the Springboks'

Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk is a certainty for the Bok squad, which will be announced next week, while Sport24 understands that the hulking Du Preez twins, Jean-Luc and Dan, have been told to pack their bags for a temporary return home.

Hooker Akker van der Merwe and tighthead Coenie Oosthuizen are also in the frame.

Lood de Jager would also be a certainty in the second row, but Nienaber admitted this week that his availablity for the series against the British & Irish Lions is "touch and go" as he's still recovering from a fractured leg.

Yet he and Rassie Erasmus, national director of rugby, aren't bothered about any acclimitisation issues as Sale from part of "90%" of overseas clubs who have a solid professional relationship with SA Rugby.

"We've accepted the fact that we'll never be able to compete with other currencies. We of course never encourage a local player to go overseas, it's just that we can't afford some of them," said Erasmus.

"90% of the clubs that we deal with have a great relationship with us. They are open, invite some of our staff to attend club training sessions. Also, some of them would be more than willing to let our players of interest - if the team falls out of the Premiership or Top14 play-off race early - be released and come join us in the camp, even if they don't play until the international window is open.

"It differs from club to club."

The relevant players, however, won't be totally out of the loop given that national assistant coach Felix Jones is regularly in contact with them.

That said, Erasmus admitted that the national setup will in future advise players pondering overseas offers on whether those agreements would still fit in with their Springbok ambitions.

"When a players wants to go abroad and we can't afford him but want him to stay in the Bok picture, we'll have a good chat," he said.

"If it's a helpful club, has a good high performance programme and are willing to work with us - like (Ireland's) Munster or Sale or (France's) Toulouse - we'll tell them it's a good option and encourage them to go.

"But there are clubs who are difficult to deal with and we'll then tell a player if he wants to remain in Springbok consideration, he needs to have a re-think."

Source: News24

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