Despite the national side’s struggles of late, there is no doubting South Africa’s ability to produce some of the best rugby players in the world. Amongst all the excitement over the FIFA World Cup currently taking place in Russia, Shaun Goosen considers next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan and selects five locally-based players who may opt to continue their careers overseas at its conclusion.
Malcolm Marx (Lions)
Despite missing the June Test series against England through injury, Marx remains arguably the Boks’ most valuable player alongside Eben Etzebeth. Considering the number of Lions players that have made a move away from Emirates Airline Park over the past few months, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 23-year-old following suit in the near future. France represents Marx’s most likely destination, where his raw physicality would come into good effect.
Eben Etzebeth (Stormers)
Since making his first-class debut in 2012, Etzebeth has amassed over 50 caps for both club and country, and cemented his place as one of the Boks’ most consistent performers over the past seven years. Astonishingly, Etzebeth will be just 28 at the conclusion of next year’s World Cup, and it remains highly likely that he will seek a different challenge when the dust settles.
Handré Pollard (Bulls)
Another player indispensable to the Bok cause, and yet Heyneke Meyer’s starting flyhalf at the 2015 event will also be an attractive asset for Europe’s big money spenders. At just 24, and possessing one of the sharpest minds in the game, Pollard has all the tools required to go on to claim the mantle of world’s best 10 in the years ahead. Whether he does so in Pretoria remains to be seen.
Elton Jantjies (Lions)
If Jantjies doesn’t leave Johannesburg before the World Cup, odds are that 2019 will be his swansong. Nobody polarizes opinion in South Africa as much as he does, and, should a big enough offer come to pass, the Lions stalwart may look to pursue avenues outside of the Republic. While Jantjies (27) may have played some of his finest football under Gloucester coach Johan Ackermann, the cherry and whites’ recent signing of Danny Cipriani may prevent him from linking up with his old teammates at the Kinsgholm Stadium. Still, England remains a logical destination.
Warrick Gelant (Bulls)
Gelant has torn up the domestic rugby scene over the past two seasons, and there is simply no way that his obvious talents would have gone unnoticed up north. Boasting pace, power and uncanny spatial awareness, the 23-year-old former Blitzbok would add value to any side. If he can remain injury-free he will be a wanted man.