The player/coach ex­o­dus

Ten Spring­boks and other top play­ers say good­bye to SA to go and earn a liv­ing over­seas

CityPress - - Sport - HEN­DRIK CRONJÉ sports@city­

π Austin Huns

Sπ Ul­ster π Con­nacht π Head of Saru rugby, Mun­ster outh Africa is lack­ing a hand­brake to stop the ex­o­dus of lo­cal play­ers to over­seas clubs.

Lions flanker Der­ick Min­nie this week be­came one of at least 24 play­ers – 10 of whom are Spring­boks – who are wav­ing South African rugby good­bye to go and earn a liv­ing over­seas.

Test play­ers Vin­cent Koch, Mar­cel van der Merwe, Dean Greyling, Werner Kruger, Deon Stegmann, Franco Mostert, Schalk Burger, Mar­cel Coet­zee, JP Pi­etersen and Wil­lie le Roux are the Class of 2016 who will be play­ing over­seas soon.

Koch, Van der Merwe, Mostert, Nic Groom, Pi­etersen and Le Roux are all cur­rently also part of the Spring­bok and South African A sides.

Le Roux’s move to the Wasps still has to be con­firmed, but ev­ery­thing points to his play­ing rugby at the English club as soon as he’s met his obli­ga­tions at Canon Ea­gles in Ja­pan.

The South African ex­o­dus is fu­elled by more and more lo­cal coaches also join­ing over­seas clubs. The value of the rand against over­seas cur­ren­cies and lim­ited lo­cal op­por­tu­ni­ties are the driv­ing forces be­hind coaches leav­ing the coun­try. π Scar­lets π Saru – Boks and Ju­nior Boks de­fence coach, Mun­ster

Ju­nior Spring­bok coach Dawie Theron is the lat­est of the SA train­ing corps to go to Ja­pan. He’s con­firmed his com­mit­ment to the Ja­panese club Do­como Red Hur­ri­canes.

The 29-year-old Min­nie will re­port to Ital­ian club Ze­bre on July 1. Be­cause of in­jured knee lig­a­ments, Min­nie hasn’t been able to play thus far this year, af­ter be­ing a Lions stal­wart π Ze­bre π Kub­ota Spears since 2006.

“I will al­ways be a Lion,” Min­nie told City Press’ sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion, Rap­port.

“But this is a new chal­lenge for me and my fam­ily. Thanks to my rugby, we are get­ting the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore the world and spend more time to­gether. Not ev­ery­one gets an op­por­tu­nity like this.

“There is so much to be thank­ful for af­ter 11 years with the Lions. I’m go­ing to miss the friends, team-mates, tours and team-build­ing week­ends a lot. But I know that I’ve given my all to the Lions.”

The South African Rugby Union would’ve taken note that it’s not only se­nior play­ers like Min­nie who are leav­ing the coun­try.

More and more young­sters, like 21-year-old Blue Bulls Cur­rie Cup lock Le Roux Roets, are will­ing to cut the cord with South African rugby to play over­seas de­spite their youth.

“The op­por­tu­nity to play for one of the big­gest clubs on the planet, Rac­ing Metro, will only be of­fered to you once,” said Roets.

“I be­lieve the chance to play Top 14 rugby will make me a bet­ter lock.

“I’m also hop­ing to learn a lot from a player like François van der Merwe. But the Bulls and South Africa will al­ways be very close to my heart.” An­dré Tre­doux π Free State and Kovsies U19 teams,

Do­como Red Hur­ri­canes Jaco Kriel π Lions and

Kub­ota Spears Louis Schreuder π Storm­ers and

Kub­ota Spears Warren White­ley π Lions and Do­como

Red Hur­ri­canes Wil­lie Britz π Chee­tahs and

NTT Shin­ing Arcs Dawie Theron π Ju­nior Boks,

Do­como Red Hur­ri­canes π Kub­ota Spears

I will al­ways be a Lion. But this is a new chal­lenge for me and my fam­ily. Not ev­ery­one gets an op­por­tu­nity like this DER­ICK MIN­NIE

Eu­gene Eloff USA Mar­cell Coet­zee Mar­nitz Boshoff Rassie Eras­mus Jac­ques Nien­aber Eng­land Ire­land Wales Werner Kruger France Italy Der­ick Min­nie Frans Ludeke Ja­pan

Lionel Mapoe

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