Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson has revealed six of his South African players – including Lood de Jager – could be called up to the Springbok squad for the British & Irish Lions series.
Sale, who are currently third on the Premiership table, have comfortably the highest South African contingent, with 11 in their first-team squad this season.
Speaking to the BBC, Sanderson said that twins Dan and Jean-Luc du Preez, as well as tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen, could be recalled to the Bok squad, while hooker Akker van der Merwe is also in contention.
2019 World Cup-winners Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager (who is currently injured) have also been spoken to by the Springbok coaching staff.
‘I want [Sale’s players] to be the best they can be,’ Sanderson said. ‘If that’s playing for South Africa or for the Lions, then I support both of those things.
‘They are talking to Coenie, Lood, Faf, JL and Dan du Preez, potentially Akker as well moving forward – I think they should, but that’s up to them.’
Sanderson also presented some good news in the Springbok context as he revealed that De Jager is on course to be fit for the Lions series, which gets under way in July.
De Jager has been out since early April, when he suffered serious knee injury to his meniscus in a freak training-ground accident. His fitness would be a massive boost for the Springboks, with Munster lock RG Snyman also in a race against time to get ready for the series.
‘In that brief period before he got injured he was, without doubt, one of the best players I have ever coached,’ Sanderson said of De Jager.
‘He is brilliant – on and off the field. I can’t speak highly enough of the man. He is a brilliant player.’
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