Cape Town - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has sent out a strong message to players who base themselves outside of the country: leave South Africa, and run the risk of being overlooked by the national team.
There are still three overseas-based players - Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw and the uncapped Steven Kitshoff - in the 31-man squad for the June Tests against Ireland, but that low percentage signals a calculated move towards backing the players that pledge their allegiance to a South African franchise.
It means that this Springbok squad has a fresh feel to it with the likes of Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Zane Kirchner, Ruan Pienaar, Willem Alberts and Morne Steyn left out.
Coetzee has also confirmed that he wants his captain to play his rugby in South Africa.
Coetzee has not been given any instructions by SA Rugby when it comes to who he can and can't pick, but president Oregan Hoskins said at Coetzee's unveiling on April 12 that the policy of selecting overseas-based players for the Boks needed to be re-evaluated in the near future.
For the rest of the year, though, Coetzee can pick from wherever he likes.
Still, that did not discourage him from backing the men who have soldiered on through 14 rounds of Super Rugby already this season.
"I think it’s important that the players understand that to
become a Springbok you have to play rugby from within the boundaries of South
Africa in the future," Coetzee said on Saturday.
"Fortunately SA Rugby have also given me the go-ahead to
select from overseas-based players.
"If you look at three from 54 players (in the SA and SA 'A' squads), it
does send out a strong message.
The first Test against Ireland takes place on June 11 at Newlands.