Sanzar to probe Bok selections

The ARU has called on Sanzar to seek assurances from the Springboks that they will field their best available team during the Tri-Nations.

The ARU has questioned the veracity of a Bok injury list that includes 21 of South Africa’s best players. It would appear that coach Peter de Villiers is resting these players for the away leg of the Tri-Nations so that they will be fresh and ready for the World Cup later in the year.

The Sanzar countries have an agreement which ensures they do not damage any of its competitions through fielding weakened teams, and ARU chief executive John O’Neill said on Wednesday that Sanzar’s chief executive officer, Greg Peters, must investigate and determine whether the Boks are reneging on that agreement.

‘The difference between 2007 and now is that we now have a permanent Sanzar office with a CEO, who has the job of monitoring and policing such matters. He [Peters] will be following up on this announcement,’ O’Neill said.

‘A couple of weeks ago we had rumours coming out of the Republic that they may be sending an understrength team. We received assurances at the time that the only players not included would be genuinely injured. We have a joint venture agreement and a broadcasting agreement, and it is important that the three countries don’t just comply with the black letter of the law, but also the spirit of the contract. Joint ventures rely on people acting honourably and consistently.

‘We’re not in a position to second-guess the Springboks, and we also have our share of injured players. But it is nowhere near 21. The sheer size of the number of players who are injured is unusual,’ O’Neill said. ‘That’s why we have asked for assurances.’