The South African Rugby Union have done their best to tap-dance around the vexed Brian Mujati issue, as calls for the Northampton Saints prop to be included in the Tri-Nations squad grow louder.
Despite the fact that Springbok coach Peter de Villiers travelled to Northampton earlier this year to speak to Mujati and the Saints over the possibility of the powerful front row forward joining the Boks at the World Cup, the 26-year-old prop has not been called up.
And it comes at a time when the Springbok squad, for the Australasian leg of the Tri-Nations, has just two fit specialist props - Bulls Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger.
Injured props include tightheads BJ Botha (knee) and Jannie du Plessis (knee), as well as looseheads Gurthrö Steenkamp (forearm) and Tendai Mtawarira (hamstring) - while loosehead Coenie Oosthuizen injured his ankle in training this week, but will stay with the squad.
De Villiers has called up utility front row forward CJ van der Linde, but he has not played since he returned home from the Stormers' Australasian tour in May with a groin injury and still has to pass a fitness test on Monday.
SARU are desperate to avoid a repeat of the stand-off they had with the government over fellow Bok prop Tendai Mtawarira at the end of 2009.
The South African government now require that all national sportsmen and women have a South African passport and citizenship.
Zimbabwean-born Mujati won 12 caps for the Springboks after qualifying through the three-year IRB residency ruling, before the new law was introduced in South Africa in 2009.
Mtawarira eventually won a protracted battle last year and was given a South African passport and citizenship to continue his Test career.
However, because Mujati now plays overseas, in the English Premiership, the government are reluctant to hand him the necessary South African documents.
SARU Chief Executive Jurie Roux was his evasive best when questioned about Mujati.
"Brian Mujati is a player playing rugby in England," he said at first.
When asked why the Boks can't call up Mujati, he admitted it is because the prop "at the moment is not a South African resident as such and does not have a South African passport".
"Up till the point that he does become a resident of this country, he can't be selected for this country."
Asked if SARU are assisting Mujati in his endeavour to obtain the necessary documentation, Roux did another tap-dance.
"We would try anything for anybody who wants to become a resident of this country, but it has to happen within the rules and regulations of this country."
Roux admitted that "different laws" were in place when Mujati won his 12 caps in 2008.
"He would have had a visa to participate in sport in this country, but he obviously did not have residency, because then he would have had the same now."
The Bok coach, De Villiers, was equally evasive on the subject.
"Brian Mujati is a boardroom decision," he said, adding that he would not like to elaborate.
"There are a few things he has to attend to off the field. [His absence from the Bok team] has nothing to do with onfield stuff.
"If the people in the [SARU] boardroom can solve the problem, we will definitely look at him."
Mujati, who started his career with the Lions, joined the Stormers for the start of the 2008 season before moving to the Saints.
He went to Peterhouse Group of Boarding Schools in Marondera in Zimbabwe, along with Mtawarira.
From the start of his Northampton Saints career, Mujati has been a firm favourite with the Franklins Garden crowds.
Much of this admiration is down to his commitment and tireless work ethic on the pitch.
By Jan de Koning
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