Rugby union: Mallett invites Kaya to party

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The Independent Online
KAYALETHU MALOTANA, a 23-year-old wing from East London, yesterday became the first black three-quarter - and only the second black player of any description - to break into the full Springbok squad. Malotanu joins two colleagues of mixed race, Deon Kayser and Breyton Paulse, in a 28-strong party for the Tri-Nations Test with New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday week. His promotion, largely on the back of his recent two- try performance for Border against Scotland, will go some way towards satisfying the South African Rugby Football Union in their demands for greater non-white representation at international level.

Not that Malotana, who follows the trail blazed by the Sowetan hooker Owen Nkumane last autumn, owes his selection to political expediency. The Springbok coach, Nick Mallett, has always insisted that form, and form alone, should be the only factor in the make-up of a Test squad, and he underlined that stance by saying: "Kaya played under me for the Emerging Springboks against the Lions in 1997 and I am increasingly impressed by his pace, skills and commitment. He is a young player who will benefit enormously by being a member of this party."

If Malotana's advancement is of long-term significance, the big news in the short term is the return of Os du Randt, the mountainous loose- head prop from Free State who suffered a career-threatening knee injury early last year.

The Welsh spent yesterday making confident noises about winning their tug-of-love with the Wallabies over Jason Jones-Hughes, who had just been named on the Australian Barbarian bench for their match with New Zealand A in Melbourne on 10 July. Graham Henry, the national coach with the priceless knack of getting his own way at every turn, stated bluntly: "Jason has committed himself to us. The fact that he has just been selected for the Barbarians is nothing new because he has played for them before. It depends on how the Aussies classify the Barbarians team. If they re-title it Australia A, then Jason has no intention of playing."

Jones-Hughes has a Welsh father and is therefore qualified to play for Wales. However, the Australians are insisting that the New South Wales centre's appearance for their Barbarians against Scotland last year bars him from any change of allegiance. Under International Board rules, players who represent the second XV of one country cannot then play for another nation.

The IB will meet in San Francisco this weekend to decide whether the Barbarians are indeed Australia A and, if so, whether Jones-Hughes was aware of that fact when he turned out for them.

The most startling development of the day was in England, however; after the recent flood of foreign imports into next season's Premiership, Gloucester took the extraordinary and wholly unexpected step of attempting to sign an Englishman. Joe Ewens, the 21-year-old Bedford centre, agreed terms last night.

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