CAPE TOWN – It may look like a done deal that Faf de Klerk won’t be available for the Springbok end-of-year tour to Europe, but don’t be so sure.
Netwerk24 reported on Tuesday that De Klerk’s English club Sale Sharks had responded in an email that the Bok No 9 had not been cleared to play in the four-Test tour.
“He was released to play for his country in the Rugby Championship, but no provision was made for next month’s tour,” Sale said.
But it should’ve included the word “yet” at the end.
Rassie Erasmus’ team will face England on November 3 at Twickenham, France in Paris on November 10, Scotland at Murrayfield a week later and then Wales in Cardiff.
The England Test falls outside of the World Rugby international window, so it will be difficult for Erasmus to secure the services of De Klerk and other overseas-based players such as Willie le Roux, Francois Louw and Vincent Koch.
But World Rugby’s Regulation 9 forces clubs to allow their players to turn out for their countries during official Test windows, which is when the last three games will be played.
The rugbypass.com website reported on Tuesday that Sale are in discussions with the SA Rugby Union about De Klerk’s situation in November.
Sale’s director of rugby Steve Diamond has said previously in The Guardian newspaper that the club “didn’t see the benefit” of recalling De Klerk for the one off weekend that the Boks had during the Rugby Championship.
On Tuesday, Diamond said in a video on the club Twitter account: “Faf stepped off the plane (back in England) and sent me a text, when are we training, I want to play this weekend. So, he will be playing in these two European games, and then we will give him a bit of a rest in the Premiership Cup.
“So, delighted to have him back, and he’s out there training at the moment.”
#SharksTV & @JamalNiaz caught up with Dimes this week.
We got the low down on the season so far, The return of @fafdeklerk and what to expect in Perpignan this weekend!#SharkTime #SharksByNature pic.twitter.com/g8kFBxtd5z
Le Roux’s team Wasps, though, did order him back to England, and he played for the club the week after the epic 36-34 victory over the All Blacks in Wellington.
Talking about Le Roux, the SA Rugby Union themselves stated that he – and Francois Louw – would be unavailable for the last two Rugby Championship matches in South Africa.
But Le Roux played against the Wallabies in Port Elizabeth and the All Blacks in Pretoria, while Louw joined up with the squad and started at No 8 at Loftus after missing the Aussie Test due to club commitments at Bath.
The lack of game time for back-up scrumhalves such as Embrose Papier and Ross Cronjé this year makes De Klerk’s availability even more critical for the Boks.