SARU have announced that, on completion of the Vodacom Tri-Nations on 4 September, the 20 contracted Springbok players will be placed on conditioning programs and thus won’t be available to their provinces for the Currie Cup until the knock-out stages.
This effectively means no Currie Cup rugby for the contracted Bok group, right up until the semi-final stage; from a Sharks perspective, though, it raises an interesting question. What of those contracted players who are currently returning from long-term injuries – Adi Jacobs, Bismarck du Plessis and JP Pietersen? The prognosis on all of them is that they should probably be ready to make some sort of return to competitive rugby before the September deadline, yet this latest ruling would appear to make it unlikely that they’d be allowed to play in the Currie Cup at all.
Players currently in the Bok reckoning, but who don’t have a contract, would be able to play in the Currie Cup once their Tri-Nations commitments have been fulfilled. For the Sharks, this means that Jannie du Plessis and Ryan Kankowski may well return in September. For Beast Mtawarira, John Smit and Ruan Pienaar, though, unless the Sharks make the play-offs, there’ll be no further outings in the black and white this year. In the case of Smit and Pienaar, of course, that might just mean forever…
Of the other teams involved, it’s only really Western Province that are likely to really benefit from this move, since they have a fair number of non-contracted Bok players currently out, including Francois Louw, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh and (bizarrely) Jean de Villiers. All four of these players should be back a round or two into the second half of the Currie Cup season.Tweet