South Africa hand out 15 Bok contracts
April 24, 2013
Eben Etzebeth has been handed a Springboks contract © PA Photos
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has revealed the 15 players who have been awarded Springbok contracts for 2013.
Alongside the likes of Jean de Villiers, Tendai Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis, youngsters Eben Etzebeth, Marcell Coetzee, Juan de Jongh and Pat Lambie have also been handed deals. Those players who are abroad, such as Francois Louw who is at Bath or Ulster's Ruan Pienaar, have not been given Boks contracts.
South Africa's best players are on European and Japanese club's radars but SARU CEO Jurie Roux says they have done their best to keep a solid group of players in South Africa.
"We've kept as many of our top players in South Africa as we could by awarding them national contracts, despite the powerful lure of the pound, euro and yen," said Roux. "We worked hard with the Springbok management and Sarpa to ensure the best possible deal is placed on the table for the players. A further five contracts are still available and will be finalised in due course.
"Last year provided Heyneke Meyer with an ideal opportunity to see what is needed in the Test arena, and by contracting this group of players, we have secured a core group for 2013. The average age of the contracted group is not very high for Test rugby, which bodes well for the future."
Andries Bekker (Japan), Juandré Kruger (Racing Metro), Morné Steyn (Stade Francais), Bryan Habana (Toulon), JP Pietersen (Japan) and Zane Kirchner (Leinster) have all opted to move abroad at the end of the season so have not been handed deals.
Boks coach Heyneke Meyer said of the contracts: "I'm very excited about the contract group. Most of these players showed last year they have what it takes to play for the Springboks and they can only get more experienced and improve further. Losing experienced players to overseas teams is not ideal, but it's their right to further their careers abroad."
Springboks contract group:
Willem Alberts (Sharks), Marcell Coetzee (Sharks), Juan de Jongh (Stormers), Jean de Villiers (Stormers), Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Francois Hougaard (Bulls), Pat Lambie (Sharks), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Pierre Spies (Bulls), Frans Steyn (Sharks), Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs), Flip Van der Merwe (Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Stormers)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September