SA Rugby have run into some tricky potholes in their endeavours to bring World Cup-winning Springbok captain John Smit back to South Africa to continue his career with a local franchise.
Dale Granger writes in the Cape Argus that Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has already named Smit as his captain, but ideally SA Rugby do not want him continuing to play his club rugby in France with Clermont while flying in and out of South Africa to join the Bok team.
Smit still has more than two years of his contract to run with Clermont, who pay his salary in euros, and so far the French club have not agreed to release him.
At the same time there does not appear to be a local franchise (essentially the Bulls, the Stormers or the Sharks) who would be willing to match the huge salary that Smit earns in Europe by signing him up for the next few seasons.
“It is a tricky situation,” said a SA Rugby spokesperson as the manager of national teams, Andy Marinos, attempts to resolve the problem.
Smit will not want to be out of pocket if he returns to South Africa to play Super 14 and Currie Cup rugby, and SA Rugby are hoping to accommodate him on a “three for one” contractual basis.
This would entail the Springbok captain receiving a Super 14, provincial and national contract – with a Super 14 franchise, a top provincial team and SA Rugby all contributing to his salary.
“We may have to enforce IRB regulation 9, which means that Clermont would have to release him for a maximum of 11 Test matches a year, if the situation is not resolved and John stays with Clermont,” said the spokesperson.
Smit will join 44 other players for De Villiers’ first training squad in Stellenbosch next week.
The squad will be announced on Saturday after the Sharks have played the Chiefs in Durban.Tweet