Cape Town – Former Springbok coach Jake White says the national team cannot afford to not pick overseas-based players.
White has called on current Bok coach Allister Coetzee to pick a team made up predominantly of overseas players for the three-Test series against France in June.
White expressed his views via a column for All Out Rugby: “Whenever I’ve been asked, in the years following my time coaching the Boks, about picking overseas-based players, I’ve always been adamantly against it. I haven’t changed my stance.
“But the problem is, when you have almost every top player leaving the country, then you get to a tipping point where you have to pick those players,” he wrote.
SA Rugby recently announced a new policy regarding overseas Springboks.
It states that only overseas-based Springboks with more than 30 Test caps will be eligible for selection in future.
However, the Bok coach would still be able to select whoever he wants in a Rugby World Cup year.
“You can’t blame the players because they’re allowed to go play overseas and still play for South Africa at the next World Cup,” White continued, using centre Jan Serfontein as an example.
The Bulls centre recently announced that he would join an overseas club.
“Serfontein isn’t losing out on anything by going overseas so how can anyone get upset with the guy when he can have his cake and eat it?” White questioned.
“And that’s what is sad – as much as we want to say you can’t have your cake and eat it, we’ve created a situation where that’s exactly what our players can do, and we’re now forced to give it to them.”
White probably best summed up South Africa’s dire situation when he made the following statement: “It feels like SA Rugby is in a spiral because we’ve put ourselves in a position where an Overseas SA XV would probably beat the Boks every time, so there’s no way we can afford not to pick the best overseas players now.”
White, who led the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2007, currently coaches French Top 14 side Montpellier.
His tenure there is set to end though and he will coach Japanese Top League side Toyota Verblitz next season.
The 54-year-old, who has spent the last three seasons with Montpellier, comes on the recommendation of former Japan coach Eddie Jones, the current England boss, who worked as technical assistant to White on South Africa’s run to a second world title.
White has also had spells in charge of the Brumbies in Australia and South Africa’s Sharks, while he also acted as technical advisor to Tonga’s national team in 2014.