Cape Town - Former Springbok centre Brendan Venter supports SA Rugby’s new overseas-based player policy.
The policy states that only overseas-based Springboks with more than 30 Test caps will be eligible for selection in future.
The new policy starts on July 1, but the Bok coach would still be able to select whoever he wants in a World Cup year.
Several pundits have criticised the policy, with some calling for a complete ban on all overseas players - as is the case with New Zealand and England, currently the top two teams in World Rugby's official rankings.
Venter last year called for South Africa to follow England and New Zealand’s example, but he has since changed his mind.
He expressed his opinion in a recent column for The Times.
“I’m now of the view that a blanket ban would not represent an ideal solution for South African rugby because the national team is currently in a transitionary phase. So, we need to keep our options open and build the most competitive unit from players based locally and abroad,” Venter wrote.
“It’s too simplistic to say that New Zealand and England are the most dominant rugby nations because they select exclusively from home-based players. It’s not a case of one size fits all and we need to devise South African solutions to South African problems. England, for example, do not face the struggle of competing with richer currencies so they are able to hold on to top players. New Zealand contract players centrally, which affords them complete autonomy.”
Venter called on South African rugby fans to not shoot down the new policy.
“It’s going to serve a purpose. Although it’s completely impossible to completely stem the player drain caused by the weak rand value and other factors which exist, I foresee the impending rule discouraging young stars from leaving South Africa and encouraging others to come back to the country to experience what the Springbok environment is like going forward.”
He used 10-Test capped prop Steven Kitshoff as an example.
The former Stormer recently announced that he would return to South Africa at the end of the European season, having spent two years at Bordeaux.
The first player seemingly set to be affected by the new rule is flank Marcell Coetzee, who suffered a knee injury playing for his Irish club Ulster at the weekend.
Reports have stated that Coetzee will be sidelined for at least nine months.
Coetzee currently boasts 28 Test caps, but given SA Rugby's new policy, he would have to play in all three Tests against France in June to be considered for Bok selection beyond that series and up until 2019.
With Coetzee now set to miss the France series, he will only be available for Springbok selection in 2019 - assuming he doesn't break his contract with Ulster and return to South Africa.
Meanwhile, Venter - who played 17 Tests between 1994 and 1999 - is currently on-board as Italy’s defence coach but he is widely tipped to become the next defence coach of Allister Coetzee’s Springboks.
SA Rugby recently confirmed Coetzee’s stay as head coach, with Franco Smith also named as backline coach.
The national rugby governing body said a defence coach would be appointed in due course.