Cape Town - The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Wednesday announced that 15 players, including exciting youngsters Eben Etzebeth, Marcell Coetzee, Juan de Jongh and Pat Lambie and world stars Jean de Villiers, Tendai Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis, have been awarded Springbok contracts for 2013.The group - whose average age is just over 26 years - includes the core of the Springboks Test players from 2012, while players who are based overseas or who have signed contracts with overseas clubs, were not awarded national contracts. "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 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 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.”The following players, who represented the Springboks last year but will be leaving South Africa to play abroad in the next couple of months, were not awarded contracts: Andries Bekker, Juandré Kruger, Morné Steyn, Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen and Zane Kirchner. “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 - Sharks Marcell Coetzee - Sharks Juan de Jongh - Western Province Jean de Villiers - Western Province Bismarck du Plessis - Sharks Jannie du Plessis - Sharks Eben Etzebeth - Western Province Francois Hougaard - Blue Bulls Pat Lambie - Sharks Tendai Mtawarira - Sharks Pierre Spies - Blue Bulls Frans Steyn - Sharks Adriaan Strauss - Free State Cheetahs Flip van der Merwe - Blue Bulls Duane Vermeulen - Western Province HAVE YOUR SAY: Is the future bright for the Springboks looking at the contracted group? Send your thoughts to Sport24.