The 'loan system' that will benefit all of SA
SPOTLIGHT: Depth, or rather the lack of it, will remain the biggest challenge for ‘minnows’ like the Pumas and Griquas.
It is the result of the economical mires the nonurban unions are dealing.
They simply don’t have the resources to build the depth of talent to match the rich and resourceful cosmopolitan franchise.
It is an antediluvian situation.
However, the Pumas’ astute coach, Jimmy Stonehouse, believes there is an attainable solution – a loan system that will benefit the game throughout South Africa.
Speaking after his team’s 5-21 loss to the Bulls in the final round of Super Rugby Unlocked, Stonehouse advanced the idea of a loan system.
Given that a team like his – already threadbare as a result of injuries – have little means of replenishing their stocks, the Pumas mentor suggested ‘unused’ players from the Super franchises could help out the smaller unions.
“We have shown we can compete, but with eight key injuries it becomes a challenge,” Stonehouse said.
“Our dept is simply not at a level required for this competition,” he said of a Super Rugby level series – where the main franchise can rely on most of their Springboks and have quality players to call up in case of injury.
He said being able to compete at this level year-after-year will allow them to attract bigger sponsors and be able to build the depth required.
However, in the meantime, there is a solution.
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“I have been saying for some time that the fourth- and fifth-tier players at the big unions – those who don’t get much game time – could be loaned out to ourselves, where they can develop and grow by playing every week.
“Many of those players head abroad after a year or two of no game time.
“If they played for us, it would be of benefit to the entire country. They will eventually return to their unions as more rounded and better-equipped players.”
He said those unused players will make teams like Griquas and the Pumas more competitive and benefit the game throughout the country – raising the standard of all competitions.
The only problem with the proposal is that the smaller unions don’t have the resources to pay those players, who are already on inflated contracts.
“Many of those players are happy to just collect their salary for a couple of years, without getting much game time. They then simply head abroad, because that is where they can get money.”
Stonehouse said the Currie Cup (second half of the season) is also like a Super Rugby competition to them, as they will be competing against the same teams for a second time around.
He expects his team to have benefited from the experience of the Unlocked half of the season and come back a better-rounded team – if there are no more serious injuries.