Western Force have set about raising the Bismarck.
WA’s Super 14 rugby team have sounded out Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis about a move from the Durban-based Sharks to Perth as their main import next season in a foreign recruiting plan the Australian Rugby Union confirmed yesterday.
Dave Hughes writes for The West Australian that the ARU board voted to lift a longstanding ban preventing Australia’s four Super 14 teams from contracting any player not qualified to represent the Wallabies.
The policy shift enables clubs to acquire an international unable to play for Australia, because of the rule which limits a player to representing only one nation during his career, plus a developing player who has not yet represented the country of his birth, enabling him to naturalise after three years in Australia.
The West Australian broke the news on August 8 that du Plessis would be a priority for the Force, and coach John Mitchell’s revelation yesterday he was seeking a hooker and a tighthead prop to bolster the front row confirmed the club’s interest in the rake.
A Force official yesterday revealed the club had made contact with du Plessis, said to have an escape clause in his South African contract if he was concerned about game time.
If so, he can make himself available because the Springboks’ World Cupwinning captain, John Smit, is back in Durban after a season with French side Clermont and will not want to finish his career on the Sharks’ bench.
Even if du Plessis is available and affordable, the ARU will have the final say on whether he joins the Force because the national body wants only foreign players who suit their development strategy.
The ARU board chose not to relax its foreign policy to the extent of allowing overseas-based Australians to represent the Wallabies.
This rules out any chance of forwards Dan Vickerman and Rocky Elsom participating in the November tour of Europe, after they signed deals to play in England and Ireland respectively.
Elsom’s absence opens the way for Wallabies squad member and Force loose forward Richard Brown to earn a Test cap.Tweet