Even if the Boks don’t make the start of the Rugby Championship, All Blacks assistant coach John Plumtree says they’d hope to see the defending champions involved down the line.
There is still no clarity on whether the Springboks will participate in the Rugby Championship.
Despite a statement this past Saturday suggesting that a decision would be revealed early this week, there appeared to be no resolution following a Sanzaar chief executives teleconference call on Tuesday.
SA Rugby has now been afforded an additional 48 hours to finalise its internal stakeholder discussions on participation, but this will now delay the scheduled departure of the Springboks from South Africa to Australia.
This delayed departure is almost certain to disrupt the scheduled match between Argentina and South Africa on 7 November, while there is also talk that one of the options that could be considered is for the Boks to withdraw from the first three rounds of competition before making a delayed entry to action.
This would allow for South Africa’s players to get through a couple of more rounds of Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked action before heading to Australia, with player welfare and preparedness undoubtedly the major concerns for Bok coaches Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus.
The financial fallout of withdrawal from participation would reportedly run into the millions in lost revenue, but the counter-argument revolves around player well-being and putting the Springboks’ reputation on the line should they go into action undercooked.
It was a point highlighted by Plumtree on Wednesday as the All Blacks prepare for the second Bledisloe Cup Test this Sunday.
‘The disappointing thing was that they couldn’t get their Currie Cup going quick enough. The longer that got delayed, the harder it was always going to be for them to get match hardened, match ready. I guess that was one of the major contributing factors.
‘They’re the world champions as well. For them to come down here, if they don’t feel like they’re ready, they’re not going to put that on the line.
‘Hopefully we’ll still get to see them, even if they don’t make the start. I don’t know what the decision will be around it, but they’ll want to play – it’s just when.’
All Blacks centre Anton-Lienert Brown said they certainly wanted to play against the game’s top-ranked team.
‘They’re the best in the world, and that gets me going, that’s who you want to play against. It’s a tag we’ve had for a long time, and it’s what we’re striving for.’
Meanwhile, Sanzaar has stated that it would provide an update on the resolution of discussions and a timetable for the Springboks participation in Rugby Championship when available in the coming days.