Cheetahs utility back Conrad Barnard, who has been released from his contract to join French club Toulon, is expected to be the first of a flood of South African players that could be lured to France.
Rugby 365 reports that Barnard, who has played both for Cheetahs and Griquas, was one of the three flyhalves that the Cheetahs had contracted for the season.
His departure means that the franchise’s reserves will be further depleted ahead of the Super 14.
The Cheetahs have decided to used Springbok Meyer Bosman as their first-choice flyhalf, with Naas Olivier and Jacques-Louis Potgieter as his back-up.
While Barnard has already been released, the real flood of South African Super Rugby and Springbok players that will head to France will only come after the Super 14 this year.
The Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Sondag reports that the top South African players will be the target of French clubs next month – with three top clubs heading to the country to try and sign talent in a “Valentine’s safari”.
Brive, Bayonne and Racing Metro will all be in Cape Town for the Valentine’s day clash between the Sharks and Stormers with the object of signing players for the next European season.
All three clubs have made their intentions clear and have spoken at length to local agents, looking for tighthead props, locks, flyhalves and wings for the season.
Brive and Racing Metro are currently looking to sign five players each, while Bayonne are looking for four.
Among the names mentioned are Springbok midfielders Frans Steyn and Jean de Villiers, and the clubs will be looking to lure them away from the country after the British Lions tour.
Other names who have been targeted include Andries Bekker, Johann Muller and Peter Grant.Tweet