Flyhalf bombshell for Sharks

2010-02-12 00:00

THE Sharks’ Super 14 campaign suffered a massive blow yesterday when their first-choice flyhalf, Steve Meyer, announced his retirement from rugby on the eve of the opening round.

The 25-year-old Meyer, who would have been the Sharks’ flyhalf in their Super 14 opener flyhalf against the Chiefs at King’s Park tomorrow night, cited “personal reasons” for his sudden decision to quit the game.

Meyer was signed from French club Perpignan less than three weeks ago on a two-year contract and was rushed to Durban after the world-class Argentinian flyhalf, Juan Hernandez, was ruled out of the Super 14 with a back injury.

Meyer featured briefly in the pre-season friendly against the Stormers and showed several neat touches before leaving the field with a facial cut in the closing quarter.

Sharks’ commercial manager, Rudolf Straeuli, said at the time that Meyer, a former Kearsney College headboy and with three years’ experience in the tough world of French club rugby, was seen as a long-term investment.

But yesterday Meyer met Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl and then announced he was leaving the game.

“It is most disappointing and a major surprise,” Van Zyl told The Witness, “but Meyer has announced his retirement from rugby with immediate effect.

“He has requested that the Sharks release him from his contract due to personal reasons and he will not be available this weekend.

“While this has come at an inopportune time, we respect his decision and have agreed to release him.

“It is fortunate that we have a number of players who can fill this position until such time as alternative arrangements can be made.”

Meyer was hampered by injuries during his lengthy stint in France, but he played in Perpignan’s last 12 games and he received a clean bill of health from the Sharks’ medical team after intensive tests were carried out shortly after his return to Durban.

Speculation in the Sharks camp last night was that the intense pressure which Meyer will be under this season could have been behind his decision to cut short a promising career,

While the Sharks will again be scouring the rugby world for another talented flyhalf, Monty Dumond will take over from Meyer against the Chiefs.

The Sharks have had a disrupted build-up to their opening game and will only know later today whether their former Lions number eight, Willem Alberts, will be available to play off the bench.

He was yesterday named on the bench and the Sharks are hoping that an urgent ruling from the Cape Town high court today will clear him – and Louis Ludik when he passed fit — to play. Judge Dennis Davis will hear the case with senior advocate Jeremy Gauntlett representing the Sharks in their contractual dispute with the Lions.

Sharks coach John Plumtree announced his team after the Meyer bombshell late yesterday and there were some surprise selections, with Waylon Murray and Andries Strauss named as the midfield pairing ahead of Adi Jacobs and Riaan Swanepoel.

Ruan Pienaar, back to full fitness but lacking game time, will start on the bench and will cover scrumhalf and flyhalf as Plumtree has named only two backline replacements.

The Sharks will field a Springbok front-row in captain John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira, with another Test prop, Jannie du Plessis, and hooker Craig Burden providing cover off the bench.

Sharks team:

15. Stefan Terblanche, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Waylon Murray,12. Andries Strauss, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Monty Dumond, 9. Rory Kockott, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Johann Muller, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. John Smit captain, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Jannie du Plessis, 18. Gerhard Mostert, 19. Willem Alberts, 20. Jacques Botes, 21. Ruan Pienaar, 22. Adrian Jacobs.

Kick-off: 7.10 pm

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