Jake White says the South Africa A side’s losses to second-string Munster and Bristol teams highlight the need to focus on keeping the best players in the country. DYLAN JACK reports.
White was speaking after announcing his Vodacom Bulls team to face Welsh outfit Ospreys on Saturday as the Vodacom United Rugby Championship resumes this weekend.
Due to the clash with the final round of the Autumn Nations Series, the Vodacom Bulls are without a few of their Springboks, including star backs Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie.
White, who has previously been outspoken on his desire to see the Springboks return to only selecting players based in South Africa, was asked on Friday about the difficulties of going through the last few weeks without the players who were called up to the South African A team and the Springboks.
“It’s a tough one, because I have worn both caps – the green and the blue. I am wearing my Bulls cap now. We have to find a new model post-2023 World Cup,” said White.
“We need to make sure that our regions are strong. We need to make sure we keep the best players in South Africa. We need to keep teams together so that we can be competitive in Europe, otherwise why have we signed up for the competition, if there’s never a realistic chance of winning it?
“That’s what the unions need to control in the next cycle. You can’t have a situation where 350 prime players are playing overseas. We could pick three or four teams from South Africans playing overseas that would be competitive in Europe.
“The next cycle is very important,” the former Springbok coach added. “I understand in this cycle they needed to pick overseas-based players and allow players to make money. There needs to be a reboot of what’s important to South African rugby.
“Of course, wearing my Bulls cap, I would like this to be the strongest provincial side in the world. Therefore, we need guys like Hanro Liebenberg, Malcolm Marx and Jason Jenkins, for example.
“We need to look at what’s going to happen after next year’s World Cup. I don’t think we can keep copying and pasting what’s happened before. You saw the SA A side, with 14 Springboks, how they lost to Munster and Bristol, who were without their internationals. So what went wrong?
“It highlights that you need to keep the best players in South Africa. It doesn’t work to bring players in late from Sale Sharks and still think you can beat Bristol. The ironic thing is that last year, the Bulls, with all locally based players, beat SA A, who had overseas-based players. So it can be done.”
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