New-look Boks set for Cardiff clash
March 4, 2010
Bath's South African fly-half Butch James could be amongst those in Springbos colours on June 5 © Getty Images
South Africa are set to call on the services of their overseas based players in a bid to meet the demands of a gruelling 14-Test schedule.
The Springboks will kick off their 2010 campaign against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on June 5 with players currently plying their trade in Europe set to dominate the squad. Boks coach Peter de Villiers, the South African Rugby Union and players' union Sarpa have agreed to the move with the aim of ensuring adequate rest for the country's leading players.
As a result the likes of Ulster prop BJ Botha, Leinster prop CJ van der Linde, Saracens flanker Wikus van Heerden and fly-half Derick Hougaard, Bath scrum-half Michael Claassens and fly-half Butch James, Munster centre Jean de Villiers , Newcastle centre Gcobani Bobo, Clermont's Brent Russell and Racing Metro's Frans Steyn are all in contention for more international honours.
"We're very conscious of having to manage the players well this year, just 12 months out from the World Cup," Sarpa boss Piet Heymans told iol.co.za. "Players will be managed on an individual basis ... and as this specific Wales Test comes just a week after the Super 14 final and a week before the Test against France, a number of regular Boks won't be considered.
"Everything will depend on how much time individual players have spent on the field."
Those Springboks involved in the Super 14 play-offs, scheduled for the end of May, will not be considered for the Wales clash after which South Africa return home for a one-off clash with France and then a two-Test series with Italy. De Villiers' side will begin the defence of their Tri-Nations crown in New Zealand on July 10 and that competition precedes the Boks' latest attempt at a Grand Slam tour of the UK and Ireland when overseas based players are again expected to be utilised.
"Obviously we are aware acutely aware of the player management issues that this test presents," said SARU president Oregan Hoskins following confirmation of the Wales clash yesterday. "But I am sure that the Springbok selectors will look at this as an opportunity to test combinations."
SARU used to enforce a strict selection policy that prevented overseas based players from representing the Springboks in a bid to reward home-grown players and prevent a talent drain to the northern hemisphere. But former Springboks coach Jake White made a couple of notable exceptions during his tenure and the restriction was lifted completely in 2008 allowing players to pursue lucrative options outside South Africa without fear of it ending their international careers.