Peter Grant, the Stormers five-eighth who booted the Waratahs out of the Super 14 finals series, could be the next Springboks player to sign with an Australian side.
The Rupert Guinness of the Sydney Morning Herald understands that Grant, 25, has told associates that should he not be selected for the Springboks squad this season he will seek to play next year in Australia.
The Super 15 side he would be most keen to join is the Western Force, which almost recruited him last year when it needed a replacement for Matt Giteau, who left to rejoin the Brumbies.
Grant was not in the Springboks squad for next month’s Test against Wales in Cardiff that was named after Saturday’s 25-6 semi-final win by the Stormers against the Waratahs in Cape Town.
As he is playing in the Stormers-Bulls Super 14 final at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday (Sunday morning, Sydney time), his omission could be because selectors have chosen to rest him. Several Springboks candidates from both starting sides were also not named in the squad.
However, insiders have told the Herald that Grant, who has five Test caps, is no certainty, despite his impressive season that included his scoring 20 points against the Waratahs, with six penalties and a conversion, last weekend.
If omitted, or if Grant senses his Springboks days are over, it is believed he will try to get a start on anyone intent on playing overseas once their World Cup hopes are over by joining the Force.
The Force yesterday reassured Grant that their door was open, although he rejected an offer from them last year that eventually went to another Springbok in Andre Pretorius.
The Force said they had not spoken to Grant recently. But their general manager, Mitch Hardy, said: ”We got pretty close to him when we were looking for a marquee 10 last time.
”So if he was keen to come and have a look at Australian again – pending what happens with his Springbok aspirations – we would be keen on having a chat to his management. Absolutely.
”We still have a No.10 spot available, so if he is still keen in a chat we would be interested. We had some really good talks with him last time. He has had a fantastic season.
”But I would be very surprised if he doesn’t get in the Springboks squad, to be perfectly honest.
”We had sort of written off that he would be a Springbok now and that his time would be taken up this year and the next with the World Cup.
”But you never know. South African rugby is a strange animal at the best of times. So, if he gets cast aside, we will be ready to jump. I think he would go down well in Australian rugby.”
In the Super 14 final Grant will come up against one his biggest rivals for Springbok selection – Bulls No.10 Morne Steyn, a five-eighth from a different mould.
Grant is admired for his defence, delivery and ability to run with the ball in hand. Steyn offers a brilliant kicking game that all too often has broken the hearts of his opposition.
What will be one of the most intriguing elements to the final is what impact both men will have.
However, Grant is playing down the contest.
”A lot’s been said about the kicking game, and I agree that Morne Steyn and [halfback] Fourie du Preez are brilliant kickers, but [in the final], a lot will depend on the performance of the forwards,” Grant told the www.keo.co.za website.
”Every flyhalf wants to play behind a winning pack, and I’ve been getting some nice ball to work with from my forwards.
”Whoever gets that momentum will come out on top. I certainly don’t think it’s going to be a case of me versus Morne. It’s not a man-on-man thing.”
Meanwhile, tickets for the final have all sold out at the 32,500 capacity Orlando Stadium.
Because it will be an all-South African title decider, SANZAR has allowed for the South African national anthem – Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika – to be sung before the kick-off.
However, despite all the expected pre-game fanfare, a final between two South African teams is destined to be a dour, low-scoring affair.Tweet