Five Saffa expats to watch

JON CARDINELLI looks at the South Africans set to star for adopted nations – and possibly against the Springboks – at the 2015 World Cup.

Barritt represented South Africa at age-group level, and was a regular starter for the Sharks in Super Rugby between 2006 and 2009. After being consistently ignored by the national selectors, the promising centre moved to England to pursue a Test career. Barritt realised that ambition when he made his international debut against Scotland in February 2012. Three and a half years on, the 29-year-old has 23 Test caps and is likely to feature in the big games at the 2015 World Cup. England and South Africa could meet at the quarter-final stage of the coming tournament, and it’s possible that Barritt will line up against the country of his birth.

Geldenhuys was born in Krugersdorp and attended Hoërskool Monument. His career only really took off when he moved to Italy in 2005 to play club rugby for Viadana. The No 5 lock made his Test debut for Italy in 2009, and has amassed 57 caps for his adopted nation in the ensuing years. The 34-year-old featured in the recent Test against Wales in Cardiff, which Italy nearly won.

Spedding’s persistence has certainly paid off. Like Barritt, he represented South Africa at age-group level before going on to play Currie Cup and Super Rugby for the Sharks. In 2008, Spedding decided to further his career in France with Brive. He subsequently enjoyed a stint with Bayonne, and is currently with Clermont. The fullback earned the first of his 10 Test caps against Fiji last year. He has started three times for France in the past month, and is expected to wear the No 15 jersey at the World Cup. If South Africa make it through to the semi-finals and France progress via a quarter-final win over the All Blacks, Spedding may well face the Boks.

Strauss grew up in the Western Cape and represented Boland before heading north to the Golden Lions in 2010. In 2011, Strauss led the Lions to a Currie Cup title. The following season, he moved to Glasgow with the long-term aim of qualifying for Scotland. National coach Vern Cotter has included the versatile No 8 in his World Cup squad, and the 28-year-old is expected to win his first Test cap in the coming weeks. You wouldn’t bet against Cotter selecting Strauss for the crunch Pool B clash between Scotland and South Africa in Newcastle on 3 October.

Strauss attended Grey College alongside his brother Andries and cousin Adriaan, both of whom went on to represent the Springboks. While Strauss received opportunities at age-group level, and starred for the Cheetahs between 2007 and 2009, he was considered surplus to Bok requirements. The talented hooker moved north in late 2009 to play for Leinster, and became available for Ireland in 2012. The 29-year-old has since won 10 caps. He may pack down against his cousin Adriaan, who also plays hooker, if Ireland and South Africa meet in the World Cup play-offs.

Rory Kockott (France), Bernard le Roux (France), WP Nel (Scotland), DTH van der Merwe (Canada), Johannes van Heerden (Romania).

Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

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