De Kock: Hougaard at No 9 for Boks!

Cape Town - Former scrumhalf Neil de Kock would like to see Francois Hougaard start at No 9 for the Springboks this year.

De Kock, who played 10 Tests for the Springboks between 2001 and 2003, shared his views via an exclusive interview with Sport24.

The 38-year-old former Stormers No 9 is set to retire having spent the last 11 years at English club Saracens.

He said Hougaard, who currently plays for the Worcester Warriors in England, should be given an extended run at scrumhalf for the Springboks.

Hougaard boasts 39 Test caps and will therefore not be prohibited to represent the national team, who recently saw a change in its rules regarding the eligibility of overseas-based players.

SA Rugby’s new policy, which comes into effect on July 1 and excludes World Cup years, states that only overseas-based Springboks with more than 30 Test caps will be eligible for selection in future.

“There is plenty of talent at scrumhalf for the Springboks and that’s the case with South African rugby in general. I would love to see Francois Hougaard starting regularly at No 9 for South Africa. He qualifies in terms of the 30-cap rule and is a world-class player. Given the experience he has attained at national level and now abroad, it will stand the team in good stead,” De Kock said.

De Kock also says it is worrisome to see some players head abroad but insists there's enough talent for the No 9 jersey.

“It’s sad to see Cobus Rienach and Faf de Klerk heading abroad, because they don’t have the allotted number of Test caps to continue playing for the Boks beyond the cut-off point of 1 July. Dewaldt Duvenage, Jano Vermaak and Ross Cronje have been selected as the three scrumhalves for the third Springbok training camp. They are good players in their own right, but we cannot discount the likes of Rudy Paige and Piet van Zyl, who I feel are also in the mix and coming into the prime of their careers.”

READ: Neil de Kock chats to Sport24http://www.sport24.co.za/Rugby/neil-de-kock-chats-to-sport24-20170519