There has been plenty of debate in South African rugby circles over whether overseas-based players can add value to the Boks
Duane Vermeulen, Faf de Klerk, Vincent Koch, Frans Steyn and Pat Lambie look likely to be the overseas-based players at the frontline of selection contention for the Springboks’ June Tests.
As always, there has been plenty of debate in South African rugby circles over whether overseas-based players can add value to the Boks as a new era beckons under coach Rassie Erasmus.
Erasmus has suggested that he will continue to give preference to locally-based players, but has made no secret of the fact he will look abroad when the need arises. In addition, it’s emerged that the previous 30 Test cap eligibility ruling for overseas players will be relaxed where necessary.
For example, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk (pictured) has featured in just 11 Tests, but his vibrant performance for the Sale Sharks – coupled with the lack of experienced scrumhalf options in South Africa – make it likely that he will reclaim the Bok No 9 jersey in June.
Similarly, powerful Saracens prop Vincent Koch (nine Test caps) is known to be highly regarded by Erasmus, and could be a strong contender for the No 3 jersey.
Of the more experienced overseas-based players who have played more than 30 Test caps, there are increasing signs that Vermeulen, Steyn and Lambie will be recalled by the Boks.
Vermeulen has been a key performer for French club Toulon, and is capable of offering the Boks an option at No 8 or No 7. Meanwhile, Steyn and Lambie – who are regular starters for Montpellier and Racing 92 in France – would add important experience and utility value to the Boks’ backline options.
Beyond those five overseas-based players, local stars who demand selection based on form, would appear to be fullback Warrick Gelant, centre Lukhanyo Am, flyhalf Handré Pollard, flank Jean-Luc du Preez, locks Lood de Jager and Pieter-Steph du Toit, hooker Malcolm Marx and props Beast Mtawarira, Steven Kitshoff and Wilco Louw.
These have been some of the standout performers during the first half of Super Rugby, but there is still time for others to become automatic selections based on their efforts before the Boks’ first Test of the season against Wales on June 2. That match will be followed by a three-Test series against England.