Leinster tighthead CJ van der Linde is determined to face the British & Irish Lions this June.
Van der Linde’s departure at the end of the 2008 Tri-Nations saw Peter de Villiers shifting John Smit to No 3 with Brian Mujati named the official back-up. A spate of injuries following the Scotland fixture saw Jannie du Plessis called up to the squad with Van der Linde only mentioned as an emergency option.
Weekend reports suggested Van der Linde, along with Butch James, will play for a Namibia XV this May. This invitational side will front the Springboks as they prepare for the Lions Tests, the first of which starts on 20 June.
Van der Linde, however, believes he could be an asset to the Boks, and despite his overseas status, is available for selection.
‘I’ll always want to represent the Springboks, and I’ll always be available for selection,’ Van der Linde told keo.co.za. ‘I can understand why Peter wouldn’t want players to head overseas, but as I understand it, three overseas-based players can still be selected for the squad.
‘I was aware of this when I moved to Leinster last year otherwise I may have had to rethink my options. If I don’t get picked for that Lions series because of my overseas status, it will be a massive regret. But it shouldn’t be a factor.’
The 59-Test veteran would be a massive boon to the Boks. Despite his vast experience at the highest level, he’s able to play both loosehead and tighthead. As seen on the previous tour to the UK, he would be invaluable in the event of injury.
When asked about the fixture with the Namibia XV Van der Linde admitted he was excited and would give his all no matter which side he plays for.
‘It’ll be a great opportunity. If I play for the Namibia XV, I look forward to going up against guys like Beast [Mtawarira].’
It was initially reported that Stormers loosehead Wicus Blaauw would join Van der Linde in the Namibia XV front row, but when contacted by this website, Blaauw said he will not feature in this match.
By Jon Cardinelli