New Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has virtually shut the door on a number of Europe-based World Cup winning stars ahead of this year’s international season.
News 24 reports that De Villiers, who became South Africa’s first black national rugby team coach when he succeeded Jake White in January, told The Saturday Star that he would first look at the players involved in the Super 14 competition before turning to European-based players when he picks his Springbok team in a few weeks time.
A number of World Cup winning stars, like Victor Matfield, Butch James and Percy Montgomery now all ply their trade with clubs in Europe.
The only overseas-based player guaranteed his place in De Villiers’ first Bok squad, to be named on the weekend of May 16, is World Cup winning captain John Smit.
The former Sharks hooker is now playing his rugby with French club Clermont, but De Villiers recently named Smit as his captain, thus ensuring his place in the team. But the Test futures of flyhalf James, lock Matfield and fullback Montgomery are not certain.
“Even if I wanted to choose a whole lot of overseas based players, I cannot make that decision,” De Villiers told The Saturday Star.
“The (SA Rugby) Board ruling is that there should be a maximum of three (overseas based players in the South African Test team), and I intend adhering to it,” he said.
“There may not even be as many as three because there are a lot of youngsters playing well.”
De Villiers is known to be a fan of Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant, who played for him in last year’s Emerging Springbok team when he was coach.
There are also a number of quality lock forwards currently involved in the Super 14 competition, including Bakkies Botha, Johann Muller – both World Cup Boks – while rookie Andries Bekker from the Stormers has also been in good form.
Matfield, while widely regarded the best lock forward in the world, is also uncertain about his future.
He is currently running out for French second division team Toulon, but indications are that he may continue his career with Northampton Saints when his French club contract expires at the end of June.
And with Montgomery getting on in years, De Villiers may prefer to look to the Stormers’ Conrad Jantjes and even Zane Kirchner of the Bulls to fill the Bok No 15 jersey this season.
The Boks face Six Nations champions, Wales, in a two-Test series in June as well as Italy, before turning their attention to the Tri-Nations competition.Tweet