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Premiership Rugby

Contractual complications stand in Delport’s way

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Delport is one of a number of former Boks reportedly on national coach Rudolf Straeuli's "come back home" short-list, but it is not known whether or not he has been contacted by the Bok mentor in recent weeks with a view to the World Cup.

But Delport told the South African Press Association (SAPA) on Thursday that his contract with English club Gloucester could prevent him from meeting Straeuli's deadline of Saturday, May 31.

"It has come to my notice that Rudolf Straeuli is considering my inclusion in the preliminary squad for the World Cup, subject to certain provisions," he said. "This has come as a great surprise, as I last year gained the impression that the national selectors were no longer interested in my services.

"I am obviously very keen to take up the challenge and will do all within my power to fulfil the requirements set by SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd to play for my place in the side. It will be a great honour to again play for the Springboks, as this remains the highest honour for any South African rugby player.

"Should I be included I will, as in the past, give my best for my country and my team-mates."

But he is fully aware of the stipulation laid down by Straeuli that all players who wish to be considered for the World Cup squad must play in South Africa this year – be that in the Super 12, which has already come to an end, or in the Bankfin Currie Cup, which gets under way in June.

Prop Robbie Kempson, one of the other players contacted by Straeuli, returned from his Irish province Ulster last month and played for the Stormers in the last two rounds of the 2003 Super 12.

But Delport's situation is a touch more complicated: "I will gladly do that [return to play in SA], but am unfortunately bound to play for my English club Gloucester in the Zurich Premiership Final on May 31.

"That is the same day that the preliminary group of players for the World Cup will be announced.

"It is therefore impossible for me to return before this date, but should it be possible to come to some arrangement with Gloucester, I'll return to South Africa as soon as possible to convince the selectors through my form in the Currie Cup that I should be included in the squad.

"There are, however, certain practical problems, which have to be overcome before I will be able to return to South Africa.

"I am contracted to Gloucester until June 30, 2004. Their preparedness to release me from my contractual obligations until after the World Cup is therefore a prerequisite for my return. I trust that SA Rugby will assist me in this matter.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my rugby with Gloucester, despite adaptation to the wet fields and the cold. The wonderful team spirit at the club, and the enthusiasm of their supporters more than compensated for the weather.

"I wish to thank Gloucester for the opportunity they have granted me to get my rugby career back on course. It has been a privilege to contribute in some small way to their very successful season."

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