Cape Town - Rassie Erasmus has confirmed which overseas-based players he has spoken to about the possibility of playing for the Springboks in 2018.
The new Bok coach has been given license from SA Rugby to select whichever overseas-based players he wants this year, even if they have less than 30 Test caps, as long as he can justify his reasoning.
Erasmus told media in Cape Town on Wednesday that his talks with the overseas-based players had begun last November.
Headliners on the list of possible returnees are Bok veterans Frans Steyn and Bismarck du Plessis (both Montpellier), who boast 56 and 79 Tests, respectively.
Erasmus also spoke to 56-Test flyhalf/fullback Pat Lambie, who now plays his rugby out of Racing Metro in France since recovering from a series of head injuries.
Lambie last played a Test for the Boks in 2016, while Du Plessis has not featured in the green and gold since the 2015 World Cup.
Toulon's Duane Vermeulen confirmed on Monday night that he still had a desire to play for South Africa, while Erasmus confirmed that he had touched base with the 31-year-old.
Other players Erasmus has been in contact with include 2016 Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks), centre Juan de Jongh (Wasps) and tighthead prop Vincent Koch (Saracens).
According to Erasmus, local players will still be backed ahead of overseas-based players.
"I'll use the example of flyhalf," the new boss explained.
"We could have four flyhalves in form and playing well, but then we could have three go down the week before the game ... then we would need to make a plan.
"It's not to say that all those guys are going to play. If our guys here are fit and in form, then those guys won't be in the mix.
"It's just to make sure that those guys are still hungry and motivated.
"It was more a fact-finding mission."
Bryan Habana, meanwhile, has ruled himself out of Bok contention by confirming that he will retire at the end of his season with Toulon.
The Boks play their first Test of the Erasmus era on June 2 when they travel to Washington DC for a clash against Wales.