I always like to pick a classical No.8
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer did "everything possible" to keep Ryan Kankowski in South Africa, but the No.8 will only be available to the Boks again next year.
There was a huge outcry when the Sharks loose forward did not make the Bok cut for the opening round of the inaugural Rugby Championship.
The Bok mentor this week revealed that his hands were tied in the whole Kankowski saga.
Ironically one of the major surprises in Meyer's squad for the series against England in June was the selection of Kankowski, who at the time had just returned from injury and was playing off the bench for the Sharks. However, according to the Bok coach, the Sharks No.8 had actually been close to edging Pierre Spies out of the starting line-up.
Meyer explained: "When I picked Ryan in the beginning there was a lot of criticism in the media because he wasn't even playing for the Sharks, but I have been very impressed with what I have seen in training so I thought he was awesome, and he was very close to the starting line-up."
That experience seemed to give Kankowski a vital boost of confidence and he hit some supreme form for the Sharks in their charge to the Super Rugby Final.
He took charge of their line-out and added some vital physicality to his free-running game which had many excited about the prospect of him taking the Bok jersey from Spies in the Rugby Championship.
However, a decision made at the beginning of the year has come back to haunt Kankowski at exactly the wrong time as his contract with his Japanese club means that he will not be available to play for the national team for the next six months.
Meyer said that although he had been desperate to have Kankowski in his squad his hands were tied as the Sharks had agreed to let him go before he could have a say in the matter.
"I always like to pick a classical No.8 and I thought that he was awesome in the last Test match against England so I did everything possible to try and get him involved but unfortunately that decision was taken earlier in the year when the Boks hadn't started.
"The Sharks released him from his contract to go and play in Japan, so suddenly Ryan was in a catch-22 situation where if he plays here he is under pressure to lose his contract in Japan and he doesn't have a contract currently," said Meyer.
The Bok coach explained that he had waited until the last possible moment before leaving Kankowski out of the squad, adding that although the situation is frustrating he takes solace in the fact that the loose forward will be available for the Boks in six months time.
"Even right before announcing the team I spoke to Ryan and it was a difficult decision for him but he will definitely be available going forward ... it is just for six months and I know where I stand. However, it was frustrating because I rate him highly and I think that he is a quality player.
"I really want to give a lot of credit to Ryan because the club invested in him and he is a man of his word and doesn't want to break his contract there so it was a very difficult situation but the other guys must use the opportunity," said Meyer.
By Michael de Vries, from the Bok camp