Springbok captain Jean de Villiers on Friday urged South Africa to adopt New Zealand’s policy of barring overseas-based players from the national team, saying an exodus of talent is hurting its Super Rugby clubs
A flood of players have left South African franchises since the Super Rugby season wrapped up last month, with the Bulls alone losing eight team members to cashed-up European and Japanese clubs.
De Villiers said his own Stormers outfit will be without the services of Bryan Habana and Andries Bekker because South African clubs cannot match the offers coming from offshore.
“It is a massive issue and a massive problem at this stage because without a doubt the Super Rugby sides will be weakened a hell of a lot,” he told New Zealand’s Radio Sport in a telephone interview from South Africa, where the Springboks play Argentina on Saturday.
Both the All Blacks and the Wallabies refuse to select overseas-based players in a bid to maintain a depth of local talent, a policy de Villiers said the Springboks may be forced to adopt.
“It’s something that South African rugby is looking into,” he said. “We can’t go on like this. We have to keep South African rugby strong.
“For now, they’re selected from abroad but going into the future I can’t see that happening.”
He said the policy could not be implemented immediately because so many Springbok players had left Super Rugby clubs in recent weeks that it would drastically weaken the team.
“You don’t want to change the team going into the Rugby Championship and play essentially second stringers, to put it quite harshly,” he said.
“It’s something they need to look at. You want to be able to pay your players good money, you want to be able to keep them in South Africa and I suppose getting the payments right is the key.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has named five overseas-based players in his starting 15 to face Argentina in Soweto – Habana, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Francois Louw and Juandre Kruger.