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Bok skipper Krige puts the feelers out for move abroad

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Krige, who turns 28 on 21 March, has played 31 Tests for the Springboks since his debut against Italy in 1999, but he missed out on the World Cup later that year when a knee ligament injury – in a Tri-Nations match in Dunedin – wrecked his dream.

Krige, speaking to Cape Town-based newspaper, the Cape Argus, said playing abroad had always been an option for him, with RWC' 03 remaining as one final goal before calling time on his Springbok career.

"My decision is two-fold," said Krige to the Cape Argus. "I would like to spend more time with my family and I would like to end my career off playing overseas.

"I always said I would hang up my boots when I reached 30. Well, I'm nearly 28 now, so if I want to end my career playing abroad then I would have to make my move at the end of the year."

Krige revealed to Planet Rugby last year that he came close to quitting South African rugby, after being snubbed by former coach Harry Viljoen despite an excellent domestic season.

"I won't beat around the bush," said Krige in August 2002. "I had three offers from overseas clubs last year (2001) and I came very close to signing one of them. I'd had enough with South African rugby at that stage."

The latest talk of Krige's move abroad – either to the United Kingdom or France – has nothing to do with him being disgruntled, his agent Craig Livingstone confirming to Planet Rugby that his Springbok and Western Province contacts expire at the end of 2003.

"As yet," said Livingstone, "no decisions have been made over Corné's future. I'm surprised that something has already been said in the media, but I can confirm that his current contracts expire at the end of 2003."

Krige, a contender to lead the Boks to the World Cup, will not be the only player lost to South African rugby at the end of 2003.

The World Cup is obviously a massive draw-card for the players, but with Krige due to leave afterwards and prop Robbie Kempson 'on loan' from Ulster until then, expect a few more World Cup Boks to follow suite.

Krige would be the ideal man to fill a long-term role at an English Premiership club, much like former Springbok captain André Vos, who is currently plying his trade with English glamour club, NEC Harlequins.

Mark Andrews, the most-capped Test forward in South Africa's history, is involved in a similar "project" with the Newcastle Falcons, while another former Bok skipper, Gary Teichmann, spent two seasons with Welsh club Newport, making a massive contribution on the field and, indeed, off the field.

News that Krige is on the look-out for a long-term deal abroad, would no doubt thrill many English clubs, with a struggling outfit like Bath no doubt readying their cheque book.

By Howard Kahn

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