Free State flyhalf Kennedy Tsimba has given up on playing for the Springboks and wants to quit South Africa for France, where he has been offered a lucrative R1-million contract to play European Cup rugby.
The only snag is that Free State are refusing to release the 29-year-old Zimbabwean from his contract, despite having signed Willem de Waal from the Bulls on the recommendation of convener of national selectors Andre Markgraaff.
De Waal, however, who is set to start for Free State in their Currie Cup match against Western Province on Saturday, had a shocker in Free State's defeat by the Eagles in George on Friday. He slipped a tackle that allowed his opposite, Rynhard van As, to steal in for a crucial try. De Waal also missed some vital kicks at posts that cost his side dearly in the final analysis - they were beaten by just one point.
Now Tsimba, the Currie Cup's leading points scorer for the past two seasons, is hoping to return to top class rugby by playing 40 minutes at Newlands on Saturday. Tsimba fractured his ankle in a Super 12 warm-up game for the Cats and has been out of rugby all year.
But he is even more eager to be released from his contract before September to play out his career in France where he will earn about five times more than his current salary.
Tsimba declined to reveal which French club had approached him, but said that to be eligible for the next European Cup he had to be registered with them before September. Thereafter he is not certain that the offer will still stand for next season.
Tsimba had always hoped to become a Springbok, but became victim to a cruel International Rugby Board regulation that banned him from being eligible for the green and gold because he played two tests for Zimbabwe back in 1998.
This was through a law introduced only in 2001 that did not grant a special dispensation to players like Tsimba who had played test rugby at a time when players could play for two different countries.
The IRB has subsequently been accused of double standards for allowing scrumhalf Steve Devine to play for New Zealand after representing Australia at sevens rugby. And although the South African Rugby Player's Association have taken Tsimba's case to the IRB, the player himself has virtually given up all hope of being granted an exemption.
"Meetings about the issue are always adjourned and this has been going on for two years. I wonder what is going on when I see the rules being bent for other players. I do not feel that I have been given fair representation at IRB level and would have liked to take them to court over the issue. But I have decided not to stress over it and I am not going to sulk either.
"The problem here is that if you are not eligible for the Boks, you are always playing second fiddle in the Super 12. You are not given the same opportunities as others and find yourself back-up to some other guy without being given an extended run to settle in a side.
"Years of waiting patiently for the IRB to decide on your case without anything happening ruins you mentally," said Tsimba.
Western Province are poised to make only two changes to their starting line-up for Saturday's game from the side that lost to the Lions on Saturday.
Lean van Dyk will come in at fullback for 20-year-old Earl Rose, who drops out, and Hendrik Gerber will wear the No 7 jersey vacated by Joe van Niekerk, who has joined the Springboks in Australia.
David Hendricks will be on the bench as cover for loose forward.
Coach Carel du Plessis said Rose was not being dropped from the squad, merely rested so that his introduction to Currie Cup rugby could be properly managed.
"All along we have been looking at bringing in young talent, but we have to manage our reserve strength properly and allow these players to be phased in properly so they can mature and perform with the necessary confidence," said du Plessis.
Probable WP team: Lean van Dyk, Egon Seconds, Gus Theron, David Edgar, Pieter Rossouw, Gareth Wright, Paul Delport, Adri Badenhorst, Hendrik Gerber, Corné Krige (c), Rob Linde, Johan van Zyl, Neil Fullard, Pieter Dixon, Daan Human. Bench: Dawid Britz, JD Moller, Andries Bekker, David Hendricks, Tertius Carse, Peter Grant, Corné Uys.
Referee: Andre Watson