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Jean Kleyn: Ireland's loss is Springboks' gain?

SPOTLIGHT: If everything goes as planned, Ireland lock Jean Kleyn could switch international allegiance after he was selected to join the Springboks’ Rugby Championship training squad.

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Kleyn was born in South Africa and qualified to play for Ireland through residency grounds in September 2019.

He played five Tests for Ireland which included the 2019 World Cup.

Kleyn has not played for Ireland since the 2020 Six Nations and his latest omission from the squad named by head coach Andy Farrell seems to have left the door open for the Springboks to lure him back to the Republic.

The 29-year-old’s admission to the Bok team is depending on the outcome of an application filed by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) regarding the former Stormers lock’s eligibility in terms of Regulation 8 and based on birthright.

The decision is expected to be received soon.

Stroke of genius

Kleyn’s inclusion in the Boks training squad was certainly a big shock, but simultaneously a stroke of genius by the Springbok management.

The Munster lock has delivered some really impressive performances this season and he was named Munster’s player of the season.

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The lock was integral to Munster’s United Rugby Championship title success – beating his former side the Stormers in the Final last month.

Despite his incredible form, the Johannesburg-born lock was still snubbed by the Irish coach Farrell, which left supporters far from happy in the North.

But Ireland’s loss might be South Africa’s gain.

It is clear that the Springbok management holds Kleyn in high regard.

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In 2016, Kleyn was the first high-profile signing made by former Munster head coach Rassie Erasmus, who is currently South Africa’s Director of Rugby.

The 29-year-old faced fierce competition, with Lodewyk de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Marvin Orie and Rudolf Snyman, along with utility forwards Pieter-Steph du Toit and Franco Mostert all very accomplished in the position.

However one thing is sure, Kleyn’s inclusion in the Boks training squad has fired the first shot and added extra fuel to the already highly contested  Pool B in the World Cup.

The defending champions South Africa have been drawn in the same pool as Ireland, along with Scotland, Tonga and Romania.

FYI:  World Rugby’s eligibility regulations were amended in 2021 which allows a player to switch allegiance. The move was mainly intended to aid Pacific island countries in particular. 

Under Regulation 8, from January 2022, a player is able to represent another country after a stand-down period of three years.

A player can move to a nation of their birth, of that of their parents’ or grandparents’, but can only switch allegiance once and each case will be subject to approval by the World Rugby Regulations Committee to preserve integrity

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