Boks 'book' tickets to RWC
Cape Town – Ten plane tickets to next year’s Rugby World Cup appear to have been booked with SA Rugby having awarded a number of contracts to a select group of Springboks.
Sport24 has learned that John Smit, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Schalk Burger, Juan Smith, Pierre Spies, Fourie du Preez, Bryan Habana, Jaque Fourie and JP Pietersen have all signed two-year contracts with SA Rugby.
It means they will possibly form the core of the team that will defend South Africa’s title in New Zealand.
Nine other players have been offered one-year contracts. They are Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Andries Bekker, Heinrich Brüssow, Danie Rossouw, Ruan Pienaar, Morné Steyn, Wynand Olivier and Adrian Jacobs.
Hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle is also in SA Rugby’s plans, but his contract will be subject to passing a fitness test.
It is also rumoured that Munster centre Jean de Villiers wants to return to South Africa.
SA Rugby managing director Andy Marinos said that the possible return of the Springbok centre is a matter “between De Villiers and Western Province”.
SA Rugby are not offering contracts to players plying their trade overseas, but appear to have softened their stance on picking them.
The sensible management of players by overseas teams is contributing to their welfare and may assist in keeping them fresh for the World Cup.
If the names of overseas-based Boks such as De Villiers, BJ Botha, CJ van der Linde and Frans Steyn are factored into the contracted squad of 20, it is clear that coach Peter de Villiers already has a good idea of what the majority of his squad will look like for the World Cup.
Form will obviously be a factor over the next 18 months, but South Africa clearly have the core of the squad that will defend the title.
Interesting is that players such as prop Gurthrö Steenkamp, scrumhalf Ricky Januarie, No 8 Ryan Kankowski, fullback Zane Kirchner, and wings Odwa Ndungane and Jongi Nokwe, are not among the contracted players.
With only 10 senior players contracted for two years, there is still chance for healthy competition and players to put up their hands before the World Cup.
That process starts in earnest this week when the Super14 kicks off.
Meanwhile, De Villiers said at the launch of SA Rugby’s Champion Tour that the Boks will not be resting on their laurels after the achievements of last year.
“We should not be out to keep what we have, but improve on what was achieved last year. This team has not yet reached its peak,” said De Villiers.
“I’m excited about the Super14. From that we’ll be able to determine the way ahead for the team over the next two years. I believe our teams will perform well in the Super14.”
Two years: John Smit, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Schalk Burger, Juan Smith, Pierre Spies, Fourie du Preez, Bryan Habana, Jaque Fourie, JP Pietersen.
One year: Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Andries Bekker, Heinrich Brüssow, Danie Rossouw, Ruan Pienaar, Morné Steyn, Wynand Olivier, Adrian Jacobs, Chiliboy Ralepelle (subject to a fitness test).
Overseas Boks not under contract, but apparently in the Boks’ plans: Jean de Villiers, CJ van der Linde, BJ Botha, Frans Steyn.