Leinster's CJ van der Linde may not be facing the British & Irish Lions for his native South Africa this summer after failing to agree a Springbok contract.
The 56-times capped exile is the one high-profile player missing from Peter de Villiers' central squad to tackle the Lions this summer and try to gain revenge for their 2-1 Test series defeat the last time South Africa were reigning world champions, back in 1997.
SA Rugby have announced that 19 players have agreed one-year Springbok contracts, but that front row forward van der Linde had missed the deadline of 31 January to indicate if he would return to South Africa from Ireland.
The contracted group includes seven players from the Sharks, six from the Vodacom Blue Bulls, four from the Vodacom Stormers and one each from the Xerox Golden Lions and Vodacom Free State Cheetahs.
The players are contracted to a payment structure that will run until 2011, although players will only be contracted on an annual basis. Non-contracted players will be incentivised to force their way into the squad.
"The players' input into this process was extremely positive," said Andy Marinos, SA Rugby manager of national teams and acting managing director.
"We met SARPA (South African Rugby Players' Association) in 2007 to decide on a remuneration model for the players until the next Rugby World Cup. The principle was to establish a new way for contracting as well as avoid the 'last minute discussions' we'd previously had with SARPA on the eve of end-season tours.
"SA Rugby held talks with representatives of SARPA - including senior Springbok players - and also two managing directors of the Vodacom Super 14 franchises. Our negotiations were centred on a performance-based model that was also incentivised for the non-contracted players.
"The old model was beneficial to those select few that had contracts, while the non-contracted players received only a daily allowance and their match fees.
"We also wanted to recognise the difference between Tier I and Tier II Test nations - in the past the same match fees were paid for both."
Between this summer's Test series against the Lions and 2011 SA Rugby have agreed to contract a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 24 players on an annual basis, depending on financial and playing resources.
All players selected for incoming, Tri-nations and outgoing Tests will receive an assembly fee. Match fees and win bonuses, depending on whether an opponent is from a Tier I (top six) or Tier II nation, will also be paid
Contracted Springbok players for 2009
Sharks: JP Pietersen, Adrian Jacobs, Ruan Pienaar, John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis, Frans Steyn, Tendai Mtawarira.
Xerox Golden Lions: Jaque Fourie
Vodacom Free State Cheetahs: Juan Smith
Vodacom Blue Bulls: Fourie Du Preez, Victor Matfield, Pierre Spies, Bryan Habana, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha
Vodacom Stormers: Conrad Jantjes, Enrico Januarie, Jean de Villiers, Schalk Burger