Cheetahs chief executive Harold Verster says Rassie Erasmus has assured their players that they will get Springbok call-ups if they perform in the PRO14.
The Cheetahs and Kings have largely been ignored from a national standpoint, with Erasmus choosing his pool of players almost exclusively from South Africa’s Vodacom Super Rugby franchises.
Loosehead prop Ox Nche, who is set to join the Sharks later this year, and flank Oupa Mohoje are the only players from the South African PRO14 franchises to have played for the Boks under Erasmus.
Both players were involved in the Test against Wales in Washington DC, but neither has played for the Springboks since. Mohoje missed almost the entire last season after suffering a knee injury.
‘We had a discussion with Rassie and asked why he did not seem interested in our players,’ Verster said. ‘He said if we win games and perform well, we will definitely get guys picked.
‘With the Currie Cup behind us, he told me the other day that if you look at the PONI (player of national interest) system, where they award contracts to up-and-coming players. There are players we need to look at. If we win and perform well, our players will go right through to the Springboks. ‘
Cheetahs high-performance director MJ Smith echoed Verster, adding that the players know their international futures are in their own hands.
‘I do believe that if we are successful in the Pro14, that we will get players selected from our team,’ Smith said. ‘To constantly be in the top six and play in the semi-finals will make eyes turn to us.
‘We have an established team now. Some of the guys are in their third or second Pro14 season. So they know what is coming. It is not an easy competition and we are excited about it.
‘Hopefully we can make heads turn toward us. Rassie has indicated that it is level ground when it comes to Springbok selection, between Pro14 and Super Rugby. It is up to us to get into a semi-final playoff and selections will be coming our way. ‘
The Cheetahs begin their PRO14 campaign with a home fixture against the Glasgow Warriors, the first of three successive games in Bloemfontein, with the Cheetahs next set to face Ulster and Munster at home.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images