South Africa to select overseas-based players for England says Bryan Habana

Faf de Klerk
Sale scrum-half Faf de Klerk has 11 caps for South Africa but has not played for the Springboks since 2016

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus is likely to select a handful of overseas-based players against England, says Springbok great Bryan Habana.

England travel to South Africa for a three-Test series this summer, with the opener in Johannesburg on 9 June.

Habana, who won 124 international caps and scored 67 tries, expects the Springboks to tap into the wealth of talent playing in Europe.

"We might even see five overseas-based players selected," he told the BBC.

The South African Rugby Union introduced a selection policy in 2016 that ruled out overseas-based players who had won fewer than 30 Springbok caps.

Since 2011, the Rugby Football Union has also had a policy of not selecting overseas-based players for England barring "exceptional circumstances".

However, South Africa's policy could be relaxed for the upcoming series with Erasmus, who was appointed in March, desperate to reverse a chastening run of form which led to the sacking of former head coach Allister Coetzee.

"Quite a number of [overseas-based] names have been mentioned," Habana told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

"Rassie is always big on winning and making sure success is achieved, and he will probably look to select as close as possible to his best XV or 23 leading up to the series."

Habana believes South Africa could recall the likes of Sale scrum-half Faf de Klerk - who with 11 caps does not meet the current South Africa requirement - and the Montpellier pair Bismark du Plessis (79 caps) and Frans Steyn (56 caps).

"We say South Africa has a massive talent base but we have also had an immense drain of players leaving South Africa, which has created a little bit of anxiety and has made it difficult on a number of levels," he added.

"Rassie will definitely try and get as many players back, not only for this year, but for the World Cup in Japan next year to make sure we put out our best side going into Japan."

Number eight Duane Vermeulen - who has won 39 caps for South Africa and joined Toulon in 2015 - will leave the French side at the end of the season to return to South African side Stormers.

"Hopefully everyone involved will put the best interests of South African rugby at heart, to make sure the success of the Springboks stays as the ultimate importance," added Habana.

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