Injured Bulls fullback Johan Roets may be lost to South African rugby entirely if he does not earn a call-up from Springbok coach Jake White this year.
Roets, arguably the form fullback in the country before a knee injury forced him out of action two weeks ago, has been knocking on the door of Springbok selection for some time, but as yet has not been let in.
But he may yet get a chance to display his talents at Test level, and quite possibly at the 2007 Rugby World Cup â€“ but not in the green and gold of South Africa, but for the green of Ireland.
His wife, Bronwyn – whom he married in December last year – has an Irish passport and he could qualify to play for them before next year’s World Cup and has already been approached to go and play there at the end of this season. It is something the in-form No 15 has been contemplating for some time and he is apparently giving it serious thought.
Whether he is in White’s plans remains to be seen, but a place in the Bok squad could be further hampered by having to undergo an operation on his injured knee in the next few weeks.
While the seriousness of the injury does not require immediate action, the Bulls are hoping that Jaco van der Westhuyzen remains injury free so they do not have to call on Roets in the remaining games in the Vodacom Super 14.
White would be well-advised to snare the Bulls man, as he is certainly among the best in his position in South Africa. The national coach has Percy Montgomery as his first-choice, while van der Westhuyzen is an able understudy. However, if injury or a serious drop in form is experienced by either, Roets would certainly be more than capable of making the transition to the top level.
Other choices open to White – looking at the players in SAâ€™s Super 14 franchises – include young Sharks prodigy JP Pietersen, Stormers speedster Joe Pietersen, Cheetahsâ€™ Bevin Fortuin and Conrad Jantjes, although the latter has been played out of position for much of the competition.
By Andrew Hollely