• 'The market will be flooded ' - Jaco Kriel admits the real reason he chose now to move to England
Jaco Kriel (Getty)

Springbok flanker Jaco Kriel has admitted he signed for Gloucesterthis season to beat what he predicts will be a flood of players looking for lucrative deals in Europe after next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Kriel told RugbyPass he believes by moving to England now, he is ahead of the contract game and predicts a deluge of top South Africatalent will follow his lead thanks to the weakness of the country’s Rand against the Pound and the Euro.

The recalls of Sale scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and Wasps fullback Willie le Roux to the Springbok squad from their European clubs is another incentive to move as test careers are no longer halted by signing an overseas contract.

The warning from Kriel, 29, comes as reports emerge that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) is on the verge of financial collapse after recording a net loss of R62 million last year while the Australian RU posted losses of $Aus3.8 million last year. It is against this worrying financial picture that the leading players from those countries will make their decisions about future contracts after next year’s World Cup.

The 11 times capped former Lions backrow forward said: “I looked at whole situation and my own career and made the decision to come before the World Cup because I believe that after the Cup tournament in Japan everybody is going to want to come to the UK or France.

“The market will be flooded and you will be competing against New Zealand, Australian and also players from the Pacific Islands for contracts. I got the opportunity to come now and I took it.

“You are playing professional rugby for the love of the game and also to ensure you can look after yourself when you retire from rugby. At the moment the Rand cannot compete with the Pound and that is a huge factor and if they are interested then a player will get in touch with his agent. It remains a personal preference where you want to play your rugby and if there is family you don’t want to leave is another factor in your decision making.

“The quality is improving all the time in England and teams want to play an attractive style of rugby and that is helping players make their decision and if you look at the Boks test series with England in June then Faf and Willie were the stand-out players.

“The fact that Faf and Willie have been able to play in England and come back to play for the Springbok is not a good message for South Africa because it shows that you can come here, have great fun, enjoy your rugby and still play test rugby. It means the last hold that teams backs home in South Africa, who want to keep their best players, had was the fact they couldn’t continue playing for the Boks.

“Now that rule has gone I really believe the guys wants to come over to Europe because everyone who comes here then, when they go back, talks about how amazing it is – except for the weather!

“If you look at the quality of the players in the Premiership then you can see there won’t be any easy games. You need a squad that ensures you are competitive in every game to keep you up there. To be able to be competitive in the Premiership and also the European competitions you need to have enough players for two teams.”

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  1. “reports emerge that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) is on the verge of financial collapse after recording a net loss of R62 million last year”

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch. This is what happens when excellence and winning is not your number priority anymore.

  2. In my opinion, it is a great shame that the strength of a country’s currency is likely to determine its success on the rugby field.

    The drain of SA talent is the real problem facing SA teams, not management, coaching, AA or anything else. As soon as a player makes a name for himself, at increasingly younger ages, he gets taken out of the SA system and strengthens the European leagues.

    It’s a real pity not only for SA rugby but rugby globally.

  3. @cab:

    You’ve got rocks in your head if you think ‘currency’ is the ‘sole’ reason for South African player exodus.

  4. @bryce_in_oz:

    As you say, smart lad!

    SA Rugby is a sinking ship

    Who would not want their bread buttered on both sides if they had the opportunity?

    SA will be competing in the northern hemisphere tournaments anyway, this is an ideal opportunity for South African players to compete fairly against their fellow countrymen, without feeling let down because of transformation, and still earning pounds or Euros as well.

    Brilliant solution.

  5. IMO SA should change its approach to Bokke.
    SA is a hotbed for talent – use that! Change the whole contracting of players set-up and develop players to be “sold off” to EU clubs for good money. This is then an Income for the province/academy/union that “owns” the players.
    Bok selection – forget about only SA based players or limited overseas players – go all out and get the best of the best at intl level. Time to go PRO!
    Consolidate the money in SA to developing talent and by that I mean get the best coaches to develop the talent to get a good price for the players. Impossible to keep players here on promises of a bok contract – just not lucrative and/or big enough… if a union like WP can afford to keep a few top guys, great but focus on the best coaches to produce the best players.
    NZ and AUS have issues but not as much as SA where opportunities to cash in when he still can makes a lot more sense than to a Kiwi dreaming of AB colours.
    Time to go PRO

  6. @JT:
    After RWC 2019 the eligibility rule will change to 5 years, correct? This will help SA in my model suggested above…

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