Johannesburg - Receiving a Springbok contract should not be seen as a guaranteed place in the World Cup squad, Bok coach Peter de Villiers said on Wednesday.
"This group of players do not have a free pass to the World Cup," he said after the South African Rugby Union (Saru) announced a squad of 23 players who were contracted for 2011.
Of the 23 players who received Bok contracts, 16 were part of the 2007 squad that won the William Webb Ellis trophy in France against England.
Five players who were not contracted last year were added to the list.
They are Juan de Jongh (Stormers), Jean de Villiers (Stormers), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), CJ van der Linde (Stormers) and Gurthro Steenkamp (Bulls).
The final Springbok World Cup squad will only be named on August 23, but prior to that a preliminary 50-man squad will be announced on June 20 in accordance with the International Rugby Board's (IRB) regulations.
De Villiers said the decision to expand the group of contracted players was done to kill two birds with one stone.
"I simply had to find a way to ensure that players do not leave the country in a World Cup year in search of greener pastures," said De Villiers.
"We also wanted to keep the best players in the country to compete against each other which will make it a lot easier to make final decisions on the World Cup Squad.
"They are there because when we get into trouble we would like to consider them first before looking abroad.
At the media session held in Johannesburg, De Villiers said there is certain overseas based players that he would consider.
"We will definitely look at a guy like Frans Steyn and try to speak to the Lions to bring him back for the latter part of the Super Rugby season to speed up his game," he said.
Steyn, who formed part of the Springbok squad that won the 2007 World Cup in France, joined Racing Metro from the Sharks on a two-year contract in April 2009.
De Villiers said the door remained open for overseas-based players to form a part of the World Cup squad, and he was also in the process of making a final decision on his management team for the global showpiece in New Zealand in September.
"If there are players that are good enough to play in positions where we struggle, we will have a look at them," he said.
However, what he has seen from South African based players in the first six rounds of the Super Rugby competition could make it even more difficult for those who ply their trade abroad.
"I am really impressed with a few guys who have really stepped up this year and there might be a few new names going to the World Cup if they carry on the way they are."