Beast makes the ‘right decision’

2011-01-06 00:00

TENDAI Mtawarira, the Beast, will be back playing his rugby for the Sharks for the next three years.

A pre-Christmas Witness report was confirmed yesterday when it was announced that the popular Springbok loosehead prop would continue to play his rugby in Durban rather than Johannesburg.

The Sharks have beaten off a lucrative bid from the Lions who believed they had found a loophole in Mtawarira’s contract and could entice the Beast to the highveld with a juicy offer.

The Golden Lions, with the financial backing of IT tycoon Robert Gumede and with former Sharks coach Dick Muir as their director of rugby, made their desperate attempt to lure Mtawarira to the highveld late last year.

But Jeremy Thomson, the Natal centre of the 1990s, who has acted as Mtawarira’s mentor since his move from Zimbabwe, told The Witness yesterday that the issue had been settled the way he always thought it would be with the Springbok prop staying in Durban.

“The right decision has been made,” said Thomson. “It was a sensitive issue, but it became protracted because of the Christmas break and it was only resolved this week. But Tendai and the Sharks are now in full agreement and he has the right contract.

“He is happy to be staying in Durban, he knows he has made the right decision and he is looking forward to the new season,” said Thomson.

Mtawarira signed a new three-year deal with the Sharks in October, but the Lions believed they could entice him away from Durban by offering him a massive increase in salary.

The Sharks have been unable to match the Lions’ offer, but the 25-year-old prop is reportedly being paid as much as the other high profile Springboks in John Plumtree’s squad.

Rudolf Straeuli, the Sharks commercial manager, who met with Mtawarira before Christmas had also been confident that the Beast would honour his contract and stay in Durban.

“The Beast has a contract with us and he wants to stay,” said Straeuli.

The Sharks are not taking the attempt to sign Mtawarira lying down and have lodged a complaint against the Lions with the SA Rugby Union (Saru). They believe the Lions are in breach of Saru’s regulations in approaching a player who already has a binding contract.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl told The Witness last month that the Beast had signed a basic and binding contract with the Sharks, but had still to initial a couple of addendums. The Lions, he said, saw this as a loophole and tried to take advantage by approaching the player and offering him more money.

“We obviously are not happy with this and will be taking appropriate action against the Lions.”

In their attempt to build a winning Super 15 team, the Lions also waved the cheque book at John Smit, JP Pietersen, Ryan Kankowski and the Du Plessis brothers, who are all contracted to the Sharks. They are also in pursuit of overseas-based Springboks and former Sharks Butch James and Frans Steyn.

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