Selection door open for overseas Boks
March 30, 2011
Coach Peter de Villiers is set to orchestrate South Africa's Rugby World Cup defence © Getty Images
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has confirmed that players based overseas, including Frans Steyn and Ruan Pienaar, will be considered for this year's Tri-Nations and Rugby World Cup despite missing out on Springbok contracts.
Racing Metro centre Steyn and Ulster fly-half Pienaar were not included on a list of 23 players contracted by SARU for 2011, but Springboks coach Peter de Villiers insists they will still be considered for his side's defence of the World Cup crown.
De Villiers explained that only South African-based players had been considered for contracts, among whom Stormers scrum-half Ricky Januarie was a notable absentee.
"We're closely monitoring the form of players both at home and abroad and there are already a number who are forcing their way into the reckoning who were not really in the picture 12 months ago," he said. "But it's still four and a half months until we have to name our final Rugby World Cup squad, and a lot can happen in that time."
Asked about the availability of Steyn, who is out of contract with his Top 14 employers at the end of this season, De Villiers confirmed he was being monitored and expressed his desire to see the 23-year-old back on the Super Rugby stage later this year.
"We will definitely look at a guy like Frans Steyn and try to speak to the Lions to bring him back for the latter part of the Super Rugby season to speed up his game," De Villiers said. "If there are players that are good enough to play in positions where we struggle, we will have a look at them. Then we're not looking at rugby only, as there are added values certain players can bring to the side."
The list of contracted players sees 13 names added to a list of ten Springboks who were contracted for two years at the beginning of 2010. Those players entering the second year of their Springbok contracts are Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger, Fourie du Preez, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, Victor Matfield, JP Pietersen, John Smit, Juan Smith and Pierre Spies.
Those who have earned a year's deal are Andries Bekker, Heinrich Brüssow, Bismarck du Plessis, Adrian Jacobs, Tendai Mtawarira, Wynand Olivier, Danie Rossouw and Morné Steyn while the five players added to the group, having not been contracted in 2010, are Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Jannie du Plessis, CJ van der Linde and Gurthrö Steenkamp.
De Villiers stressed that the contracts were "no guarantee" of a place in South Africa's World Cup squad and additions can be expected, with no specialist fullback in the 23 and just one scrum-half - the Bulls' Fourie du Preez.
The post of captain will be confirmed later in the year while De Villiers added he would also consider bringing in consultants to bolster their World Cup challenge, with four names in the mix, although he would not be drawn on their identity.
The outspoken Springboks boss also revealed his side will stick to the conservative approach to the game that saw them finish a disastrous year on a high with victory over England at Twickenham back in November.
"There's definitely going to be a big difference between playing a competition [Super Rugby] and playing a tournament [World Cup]," he said. "Playing a tournament, your outlook on the game is much different. You go the conservative route more than ever and I'm really happy with what is happening at the moment.
"We played against England last year, the same old conservative South African style of rugby and it was good to watch. It worked for us. The guys knew and there was no confusion among players, and game after game you can play that level of rugby. The one great thing about the England game last year was that it brought back the belief that what we are doing can work for us and that is what we are building on for the World Cup."
De Villiers hopes for another boost from this year's Super Rugby competition. "I would love us to annihilate the Aussie and the New Zealand teams now and build a kind of fear factor into them," he said. "But, it doesn't matter come World Cup time. I think we will be ready."
Springbok Contracted Players - 2011: Bryan Habana (Western Province), JP Pietersen (Sharks), Jaque Fourie (Western Province), Wynand Olivier (Blue Bulls), Adrian Jacobs (Sharks), Jean de Villiers (Western Province), Juan de Jongh (Western Province), Morné Steyn Blue Bulls), Fourie du Preez (Blue Bulls), Pierre Spies (Blue Bulls), Juan Smith (Free State Cheetahs), Schalk Burger (Western Province), Heinrich Brüssow (Free State Cheetahs), Bakkies Botha (Blue Bulls), Victor Matfield (Blue Bulls), Andries Bekker (Western Province), Danie Rossouw (Blue Bulls), John Smit (Sharks), Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks), Gurthrö Steenkamp (Blue Bulls), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), CJ van der Linde (Western Province), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks)
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