Reports that Sharks and Springbok utility back Frans Steyn is set to play in Japan after this year’s Super Rugby competition should be seen as a win-win situation.
Local media and even a pay-TV station speculated about the reported move on Friday, but the facts appear to be fuzzy and even squishy.
What is a fact, is that Steyn is currently talking to the South African Rugby Union about the prospect of having a stint in Japan.
That much was confirmed by SARU Chief Executive Jurie Roux to the local media.
However, after that the ‘facts’ depend on what publication you read.
It was revealed was that Steyn is likely to be available for the June Tests and miss some of the Rugby Championship matches.
He might be available for some games in Australasia, but is also likely to miss matches on the year-end tour.
It is also a fact that he WILL be available for Super Rugby next year and play for the Boks in the World Cup in England.
His negotiations with SARU centre around which Tests he will be available for – much like the agreements that are in place for other Japan-based Boks like Fourie du Preez, JP Pietersen and Jaque Fourie.
While some critics will suggest that these arrangements are to the detriment of South African rugby and the Springboks, it is in fact a win-win situation.
The players get the big paydays that SARU and the Super Rugby franchises can’t afford.
They also play in a less demanding competition and are available for their country for next year’s World Cup – playing a number of Tests in between to keep them up to date with coach Heyneke Meyer’s processes.
And, when they are not available, younger players can be eased into the fold.
It also allows the Bok mentor to broaden his base from which he can select, making it easier to cover injury setbacks.
While the details of Steyn’s Japan excursion must still be finalised, it is a good move that is to the benefit of the player and the national team.