Crimp in poaching

2011-01-15 00:00

RUDOLF Straeuli has returned from his overseas travels convinced that the days of overseas clubs poaching South African players are numbered.

The former Springbok coach, now the Sharks’ commercial manager, combined business and pleasure on a trip to Europe over Christmas and was surprised with what he found.

“The financial squeeze is really hurting the overseas clubs. Players in Ireland have had to take a 30% wage cut and clubs in France are now only really interested in South African props.”

Straeuli said yesterday a number of overseas-based South African players, including one or two former Springboks, were eager to return home.

“We have a full squad here at the Sharks and a number of our younger players are also challenging for places.

“But we may look at signing some of the overseas players for the Currie Cup (when the Sharks will be without a host of Springboks) later in the year.”

Straeuli confirmed former Springbok flyhalf Andre Pretorius, who played a bit part in the Sharks’ successful Currie Cup campaign last year, has returned to Johannesburg.

The 32-year-old Pretorius, nursing a badly torn hamstring, moved to Durban from the Western Force last year and completed his rehabilitation with the Sharks.

“We have contracted two young flyhalves [Pat Lambie and Jacques-Louis Potgieter] and we couldn’t afford the luxury of a third. Andre has signed for the Lions,” Straeuli told the Weekend Witness.

Straeuli said they had also offered Rory Kockott a contract, but the feisty scrumhalf had opted for a move to Johannesburg rather than play behind Charl McLeod and new signing Conrad Hoffman.

Burly centre Riaan Swanepoel was a late Sharks signing and he will provide back-up for Springbok and former Free State inside centre Meyer Bosman.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that SuperSport will screen the pre-season friendly between the Sharks and the Stormers at Newlands in three weeks (February 5, 5 pm).

The triangular series will also involve the Lions but the final game (Sharks vs Stormers) is the only one which will be screened.

• The newly-established SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia Rugby) organisation based in Sydney has appointed former international referee Lyndon Bray to the new role of Game Manager.

Bray is currently the High Performance Referee Manager for the New Zealand Rugby Union.

He will relocate to Sydney in April this year when he commences his SANZAR role.

Bray will be responsible for all of the in-game technical elements of SANZAR competitions, including overseeing game trends, match officials and direct liaison with coaches.

Sharks supporters will not remember Bray with any great fondness.

The New Zealander was running the touchline in the Super 14 final in 2007 and ignored a series of Bulls’ indiscretions at the final ruck — just metres in front of him and when referee Steve Walsh’s vision was obscured — before Bryan Habana burst through for the winning try in the 83rd minute.

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