Johannesburg - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is looking to Fourie du Preez to have the same sort of impact that veteran Wallaby George Smith had on the Brumbies and Wallabies in the upcoming Rugby Championship.
Describing the move to bring the World Cup-winner back, Meyer said it was a "long-term vision” and that Du Preez had been part of his plans from the start.
"I believe that Fourie du Preez is a world class player, he has always been part of my plans from the start but unfortunately he wasn’t available.
"I had a lot of discussions with Fourie and he is still very keen to play for his country and I believe he is still one of the best scrumhalves in the world.
"I also want to make sure I take the best nine (scrumhalf) to the Rugby World Cup.
"I have to look at Fourie and he will be available for five or six Test matches.
Du Preez has always been a loyal servant of SA Rugby, and despite critics of Japanese rugby believing it to be a level below Super Rugby, the rest and lighter load on players have certainly worked in cases like Smith where it allows talent to prolong careers.
"If you look at a guy like George Smith, what he meant for the Brumbies?
"He plays for the same club as Fourie and is still playing great rugby and made a big difference.
"He needs to be picked on merit and show he is the best.
"He will get the opportunity to train with the squad now and we will see how he goes.
"This is more a long-term vision.
"I want to see what Fourie can add and what he can bring to this side.
"By next year he will probably be available for all the Test matches and specifically in the World Cup he will be available.
"My coaching staff and selectors have footage of all the games and we’ve watched him play in the Japanese league.
"I still think he is a quality player and a world class player.
"The one thing he can bring to the side is leadership.
"He first has to earn that right though but I’ve watched a lot of his games, and he was superb.
"I know a lot of guys will say it is at a lower level, but George Smith proved what good rugby he can play.
And those with good memories will recall how influential an in-form Du Preez can be.
Meyer’s move to offer him a Bok lifeline may look strange to some, but it could turn out to be the master stroke of his career as Bok coach.