Draft dealings explained

The five South African Super 14 coaches will finalise the draft arrangements in the next two days.

The system is complicated, but keo.co.za has whipped out the rulebook and it essentially boils down to the following procedure.

*Each South African franchise names a squad containing a minimum of 26 and maximum of 30 players. The catch is that if you name a squad of 30, you cannot draft any players from other regions. Thus essentially most squads will name squads of 28, unless they are 100% confident they can find no better players from outside their pool.

*Regulations stipulate that you can freeze another five injured players, making them ineligible for the draft. Thus players only due to recover from injuries a month or more into the competition cannot be snapped up by other regions even if they are not included in an original Super 14 squad.

*The players not featured in the squads or injury black-outs enter the draft, whereafter negotiations with the player takes place directly. If a player decides to accept an offer from another region, they are responsible for paying his salary for the duration of the competition.

In effect, the draft system is a high-stakes game of poker. The most common policy is to name a squad of 28, with coaches attempting to name as many of the players they suspect other regions will snap up if allowed into the draft. That policy explains the Sharks’ premature squad release yesterday, in which they included only two props and two hookers. The reasoning is most likely to have been that, after examining the other squads’ resources, props and hookers were not in high demand whereas loose forwards and outside backs are. Thus the disproportionate numbers.

The five Super 14 coaches meet with Jake White in Johannesburg today, and conduct the draft meeting tomorrow.