25 April 2013
The South African Rugby Union (Saru) released a list of 15 players it has signed to Springbok contracts on Wednesday, including rising stars Eben Etzebeth, Marcell Coetzee, Juan de Jongh and Pat Lambie.
The most experienced of the players signed is Bok captain Jean de Villiers, a veteran of 80 tests. Frans Steyn, Pierre Spies, Beast Mtawarira, and Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis all have in excess of 40 caps.
Compared to last year, though, the experience among the contracted players is certainly down as Andries Bekker, Juandre Kruger, Morne Steyn, Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen and Zane Kirchner, all of whom will be leaving the country to play abroad in the next few months, were excluded from national contracts.
‘Out of the reckoning’
“All six of these players were going to receive contracts, but the fact that they have indicated that they have signed with overseas clubs or are planning to do so, has ruled them out of the reckoning,” Saru CEO Jurie Roux said in a statement.
Both Bekker and Pietersen are headed for Japan where interest in rugby has been fuelled by the country’s selection to host the IRB Rugby World Cup in 2015.
Nonetheless, the group of players signed by Saru – whose average age is just over 26 years of age – includes the core of the Springboks’ test players from 2012.
“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,” Roux said.
‘Best possible deal’
“We worked hard with the Springbok management and Sarpa (the South African Rugby Players’ Association) 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.
He added: “Last year provided [Springbok coach] 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.”
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer declared himself satisfied with the players given national contracts. “I’m very excited about the contract group,” he said. “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.”
SPRINGBOK CONTRACTED PLAYERS
Willem Alberts (The Sharks), Marcell Coetzee (The Sharks), Juan de Jongh (DHL Western Province), Jean de Villiers (DHL Western Province), Bismarck du Plessis (The Sharks), Jannie du Plessis (The Sharks), Eben Etzebeth (DHL Western Province), Francois Hougaard (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Pat Lambie (The Sharks), Tendai Mtawarira (The Sharks), Pierre Spies (Bodacom Blue Bulls), Frans Steyn (The Sharks), Adriaan Strauss (Toyota Free State Cheetahs), Flip van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Duan Vermeulen (DHL Western Province)
Castle Lager Incoming Tour
The Castle Lager Rugby Championship
Castle Lager Outgoing Tour
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