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'I am lucky Munster are allowing me to play for the Springboks'

RG Snyman will remain an important part of South Africa’s plans moving forward.

IF HE CAN produce the kind of performances he has delivered for the Springboks in recent years, RG Snyman will very quickly become a major fan favourite with Munster.

But the province’s fans might have to endure the frustration of seeing the 25-year-old lock and new South African centre Damian de Allende depart for the other side of the world pretty soon too.

A condensed six-week Rugby Championship is set to take place in New Zealand from 7 November through until the second weekend of December this year, with Snyman and de Allende certainly still in Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber’s Springbok plans despite their moves to Ireland.

rg-snyman-celebrates-with-rassie-erasmus-after-the-game RG Snyman with Rassie Erasmus after last year's World Cup success. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

While Snyman and de Allende would predominantly miss Pro14 games if called upon to travel with the Boks, involvement in the Rugby Championship would also mean missing Munster’s opening game of the 2020/21 Champions Cup campaign on 11/12/13 December and potentially their second fixture a week later. 

“Me personally, I will,” said Snyman yesterday when asked if he intends to play for the Boks this year.

“There is still a lot going on to see if the games [in the Rugby Championship] will go ahead.

“I am lucky Munster are allowing me to play for the Springboks.”

The reality is that World Rugby’s Regulation 9 – temporarily extended for this year’s Rugby Championship – is the most important factor in allowing Snyman to play for the Springboks.

With Erasmus altering SA Rugby’s rules to ensure the Springboks can select players based outside South Africa, this is one of the frustrations for European sides who sign Boks but Munster certainly believe de Allende and Snyman are worth any of the trouble.

And the truth is that Snyman and de Allende wouldn’t be the players they are but for their involvement with the Boks, with both benefitting hugely from working under former Munster head coach Erasmus in recent years.

De Allende’s game has moved onto a new level since Erasmus’ return, while Snyman has won all 23 of his Test caps during Rassie’s tenure.

“Rassie is very straightforward so everyone in the team knows where they stand,” said Snyman of Erasmus’ qualities. “Another thing about him I really enjoyed – it doesn’t matter what happens except pitching up on game day and performing at your best.”

rg-snyman-takes-a-selfie-with-fans Snyman was excellent as part of the Bomb Squad last year. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Former Munster defence coach Jacques Nienaber is now the Springboks’ head coach and has also had a telling impact on Snyman.

“I have worked with Jacques since SA Schools, so we have both come a long way and he is honestly one of the best guys I have ever worked with, especially from a technical point of view,” explained Snyman.

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“There is nothing about the opposition that Jacques doesn’t know. And if there is, he figures it out before we get to the game. It’s really nice to work under him.”

Snyman was part of the Springboks’ ‘Bomb Squad’ off the bench during their World Cup success last year and joined the rest of that crew in getting a special tattoo on his hip during the celebrations after their return home from Japan.

“Alcohol might have been involved but we are all happy about that,” said Snyman with a laugh.

Seeing thousands of South Africans welcoming their return with the trophy ranks as “the best experience of my life” for Snyman, while he hopes next summer’s Lions tour against the Springboks will allow him and his national team-mates to make more memories.

“That’s a big goal for me to achieve and I am very much looking forward to playing against some of my Munster team-mates hopefully.”

For now, Snyman is doing his best to get to know all of the new faces in Munster, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of how Johann Van Graan – the biggest factor in his move to Ireland – wants him to fit into the province’s plans.

Snyman’s towering 6ft 9ins and 120kg frame means he excels in the collisions but there is more to his game thanks to the unique offloading and passing skills that he has shown for the Bulls, the Boks, and most recently in Japanese club rugby with Honda Heat.

stephen-archer-with-rg-snyman Snyman at Munster training last week. Source: Munster Rugby/INPHO

Snyman explains that he was an out-half before he started secondary school at Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool in Pretoria, but it was his father who had the greatest influence on his offloading mindset.

“Since I was growing up, he used to tell me: ‘Never let the ball die, always keep it alive.’”

Settling into life in Limerick outside of rugby is also a new challenge for Snyman and his wife – particularly given the current restrictions – but they’re well accustomed to adapting off the pitch thanks to the second row’s three seasons in Japan.

“Japan was actually a life-changing experience, just to be part of such a different culture,” said Snyman, who joined Munster on a two-year deal. “Being over here in Ireland is also being part of a different culture but over there it’s totally opposite to what we’re used to.

“For my life, it made a good difference I think and from a rugby perspective over there, when I first started I played in the second division with Honda and we managed to work ourselves back up to the Top League.

“What I took from that was to just enjoy rugby because we were at a bit of a difficult stage at the Bulls and when I went to Japan I realised, you know what, just enjoy it and make the most of the time on the field.’ [A rugby career] is obviously very limited so just enjoy every single moment you get.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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