Jean Kleyn officially cleared for Springbok Test selection

Jean Kleyn officially cleared for Springbok Test selection

Former Irish international lock Jean Kleyn has been cleared for Springbok selection under new eligibility rules and could make his debut as soon as next month.

World Rugby confirmed on Thursday that the Johannesburg-born 29-year-old fulfilled the necessary 'birthright transfer' requirements.

The regulation - which came into force at the start of 2022 - allows for players to be selected for their country of birth (or of their parents' or grandparents' birth) once a period of at least 36 months has elapsed since last selection for an adopted country.

The former Stormers and Western Province lock moved to Ireland in 2016 and qualified for selection for that country by residency in 2019. He was picked for his adopted country's Rugby World Cup squad that year and made five appearances. He has not been selected subsequently.

The 2,03m second rower has made more than 130 appearances for Munster and was a part of their United Rugby Championship-winning team in Cape Town last month.

Kleyn has been in camp with the Rugby Championship training squad and is now eligible for selection as early as next month when the Springboks' 2023 season kicks off against Australia at Loftus Versfeld.

South Africa's director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, who coached Kleyn during his time at Munster, recently elaborated on why they went after the lock, despite his decision to switch to Ireland.

"A guy like Jean, a monster of a guy, played with RG [Snyman], we coached him at Munster and comes right through the South African structures, but he wasn't available (because he played for Ireland), and now he is available," Erasmus said.

"He has won the United Rugby Championship, he knows most of the players here, and as I say, we always feel we've got all these locks, but every time we've gone to the finals, we lost Lood [de Jager] in the final of the previous World Cup in the 20th minute and Sous [Franco Mostert] immediately went on.

"Our locks are really physical in the way we play the game. We felt we never had enough guys there."

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber added: "Jean knows the majority of players from his days at the Stormers¦ so his coming into the mix is no issue, he trusts them and they trust him.

"From a coaching point of view, Rassie and I coached him at the Stormers and then at Munster… so we know what we have in him and what he can do for the Boks."