SA Rugby needs central contracts
OPINION: As news surfaced that Duane Vermeulen could return to South Africa in the near future, the #RugbyLateTackle team - more specifically Morgan Newman - makes an argument for central contracting in the country.
Word on the street is that the 39-Test Springbok loose forward could return to Cape Town to rejoin the Stormers after initial reports suggested that he would captain the national side. Toulon President Mourad Boudjellal confirmed that Vermeulen will be leaving the French side at the end of the current Top 14 season.
Speaking on #RugbyLateTackle, former Stormers and Western Province centre Newman posed the idea of South Africa centrally contracting the best players in order for the Springboks to have a best versus best scenario during local Super Rugby derbies.
"Duane [Vermeulen] is coming back. What happens to Nizaam [Carr], [Sikhumbuzo] Notshe, Siya [Kolisi], Cobus Wiese? Duane comes back into that setup and this is where my fight for central contracting has been going on.
"If he comes back to the Stormers, why is he coming [to Cape Town]? We want to see Notshe and Siya play week in and week out and want to see Duane play against Siya Kolisi. I want to see the best nine flanks in South Africa play against each other when it comes to derbies," Newman said.
Former Stormers and Stade Français lock Anton van Zyl agreed with Newman on this point and believes the return of the country's best players is what is needed to improve the Springboks' performance.
"For the Springboks to be strong, we need the vast majority of the best players to play in South Africa and Super Rugby," he said.
The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) implements central contracting, which means that the top professional players sign contracts with the national body (NZRU) before their franchises.
The franchises are each allocated a budget from within the player payment pool, but the NZRU ultimately has the final say in how the players are managed. There have been numerous cases when high-profile All Black players have been given a few months away from the game in order for them to recover.
"That's what makes NZ so good. They pick their best players to play at different unions and that's how you create depth [for the national side].
"In a derby, how do we see who really is the best? We need to do central contracting, SA Rugby manage them, and the likes of Duane, Warren Whiteley and Siya Kolisi plays at three different Unions," Newman added.
The 2019 World Cup in Japan is drawing closer and player management is going to play an integral role in ensuring that the best players, who are in top form, are picked to represent South Africa.
It certainly adds to the case for implementing a central contracting system, however, the system only works when the correct people are placed in charge of managing it.
* For more on this, a debate about the current Springbok coaching situation and an exclusive interview with Springbok Bryan Habana, watch the latest #RugbyLateTackle episode HERE!