Japan sabbaticals a 'reality of life' for SA players
REACTION: Japan sabbaticals is South Africa’s best counter to the cash-flush clubs in Europe.
Lions coach Swys de Bruin said it is no longer possible – given the declining value of the Rand – to retain the country’s top players at any cost.
He was reacting to the revelation that Springbok and Lions hooker Malcolm Marx will take up a sabbatical in Japan after the World Cup later this year.
Marx, who will return to the Lions after completion of the Japanese season in late May or early June, will join a host of other Springboks and SA players in The Land of the Rising Sun.
This includes Lions teammate Albertus Smith, Jason Jenkins, Rudolph Snyman, Duane Vermeulen, Jesse Kriel (all from the Bulls) and Damian de Allende (Stormers).
* Also read – BREAKING NEWS: Lions’ Bok gets Japan sabbatical
“This is not just a sabbatical,” De Bruin told a media scrum at the team’s Ellis Park base on Friday.
“It is great opportunities,” the coach said, adding: “They are professional players and it is ‘big’ money, which always plays a role.
“You can’t get past that. We have to accept that and get used to it.”
De Bruin said he is happy and excited that Marx will return to the Lions after his stint in Japan.
“It [his return] is more important than the fact that he is going to be away for a while.
“We must do everything we can, given the [declining] value of the Rand, to ensure we retain our players.
“For a player like him to return, is very positive for me and for South African rugby – that is the way I look at it.”
Marx has been the standout hooker at both the Lions and the Springboks for the past few years.
Marx has contributed to the Lions’ cause with eight try assists and a tackle success rate of 84 percent, not to mention his numerous turnovers and strong carries.
By Josh Isaacson