Fifteen Boks get SARU contracts
Fifteen Boks get SARU contractsSHARE
The South African Rugby Union revealed that only 15 players have been awarded Springbok contracts for 2013.
This include exciting youngsters such as Eben Etzebeth, Marcell Coetzee, Juan de Jongh and Pat Lambie – as well as more established players such as Jean de Villiers, Tendai Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis.
The group – whose average age is just over 26 years – includes the core of the Springboks Test players from 2012.
Players who are based overseas or who have signed contracts with overseas clubs, were not awarded national contracts.
Toulon-bound record try-scorer Bryan Habana was one of six senior internationals not awarded a contract, with Bok coach Heyneke Meyer admitting the trend of players moving to overseas clubs was "not ideal" for his plans.
Habana, who has 47 tries in 83 Tests, and the other five players would have been awarded a national contract for 2013 if not for their decisions to move to Europe or Japan.
Flyhalf Morne Steyn, fullback Zane Kirchner, wing JP Pietersen, along with locks Andries Bekker and Juandre Kruger were also left off the list as they're set to leave South Africa toward the end of the Super Rugby season.
"We've kept as many of our top players in South Africa as we could by awarding them national contracts, despite the powerful lure of the British Pound, Euro and Yen," said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.
"We worked hard with the Springbok management and SARPA to ensure the best possible deal is placed on the table for the players.
"A further five contracts are still available and will be finalised in due course.
"Last year provided [Bok coach] Heyneke Meyer with an ideal opportunity to see what is needed in the Test arena, and by contracting this group of players, we have secured a core group for 2013.
"The average age of the contracted group is not very high for Test rugby, which bodes well for the future."
Speaking of the players who represented the Boks last year, but did not get contracts because they are leaving these shores – Bekker, Kruger, Steyn, Habana, Pietersen and Kirchner – said it was a call SARU had to make.
"All six of these players were going to receive contracts, but the fact that they have indicated that they have signed with overseas clubs or are planning to do so, has ruled them out of the reckoning," said Roux.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said: "I'm very excited about the contract group. Most of these players showed last year they have what it takes to play for the Springboks and they can only get more experienced and improve further.
"Losing experienced players to overseas teams is not ideal, but it's their right to further their careers abroad."
Springbok contract group: Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Tendai Mtawarira, Pierre Spies, Frans Steyn, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen.