A debate has been raging in my office after the announcement of the 30 man Bok squad for the home leg of the upcoming Castle Rugby Championship, in regards to the amount of overseas based players that Heyneke Meyer has selected. Should this be allowed? I read somewhere that Heyneke is basically letting these players ‘Have their cake, and eat it’.
A third of the 30 man squad will be made up of players based abroad. These 10 players are:
Guthro Steenkamp (Toulouse), Juandre Kruger (Racing Metro 92), Chilliboy Ralepelle (Toulouse), Francois Louw (Bath), Zane Kirchner (Leinster), Bryan Habana (Toulon), Morné Steyn (Stade Francais), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster), Fourie du Preez (Suntory Sungoliath) and Jano Vermaak (Toulouse).
In a an interview with Die Burger’s website, Jurie Roux, SARU CEO, has said that a limit on the number of overseas based players included in the squad could be set in the future.
“Yes, it’s something we are considering. But within the context of a constantly changing industry that is fast developing into a global sport rather than just being a national sport in terms of opportunities offered,” said Roux.
“Players playing locally will always get first consideration, provided that the selectors have faith in their abilities.
“However, we are in a unique current situation with six players (Kirchner, Habana, Steyn, Vermaak, Kruger and Ralepelle), who were part of the Bok squad this past year, now deciding to go overseas. You can’t just replace so many players in the middle of the season.
“But these players know their chances of playing for South Africa in future cannot be guaranteed.”
Roux said it could offer an opportunity for new young players to make a name for themselves but nevertheless confirmed they will be attending to the matter.
“Naturally, it is concerning and we are working on a plan to ensure that our top players do not head abroad.”
Is the inclusion of these overseas based players unfair on those who have chosen to play local rugby rather than seek larger pay cheque abroad? Or should these local Bok stars strike while the iron is hot and go for the money in France, Japan and the UK. Is Heyneke sending out the wrong message?
Maybe I’m wrong but keep SA talent in SA.