London (AFP) - Former South Africa coach Nick Mallett believes the Springboks' international struggles are being fuelled by the relative weakness of the country's currency, the rand.
Many stalwart players now feature in international rugby union leagues, especially in the cash-rich French Top 14 where mind-boggling sums are dangled in front of some of South Africa's best and brightest.
"The real worry is they are attracted by the euro, pound and yen," Mallett, the Springboks coach between 1997 and 2000, told AFP.
"After all it is the future for these guys and if they haven't got a Springbok contract, they'd rather play for Toulon or Montpellier and earn five times more than in South Africa.
"The rand really struggled over the past two years. I was told by Jacques Fourie (72-capped Springbok back) he was being paid the equivalent of 11 million rand (773,000 euros; $832,000) for playing 12 games a year in Japan.
"Who wouldn't do that? It doesnt matter if it's the old guys like your Richie McCaws and Dan Carters who are going.
"However, you don't want your young players like CJ Stander (now playing for Ireland) or Jacques du Plessis (23-year-old playing for Top 14 side Montpellier) going. That's a real worry."