Mapoe signs with Sharks

2010-05-21 00:00

THE exciting Free State Cheetahs wing and Sevens Springbok Lionel Mapoe has signed to play for the Sharks until the end of 2012.

But, with the Free State Rugby Union adamant that they still have Mapoe under contract, the Sharks could again find themselves in another high court battle to secure his services.

Earlier this year the Sharks won a legal battle with the Lions after signing Louis Ludik and Willem Alberts.

Sharks CEO, Brian van Zyl confirmed last night that a two-and-a-half-year contract had been signed with the 21-year-old Free Stater.

“Following a contractual dispute, Lionel terminated his contract with the Free State Cheetahs on March 9 and has requested a clearance certificate from them.

“He has now concluded a contract with the Sharks and will start training with the squad next week,” said Van Zyl in a statement.

Van Zyl told The Witness last night said that there was no question that the Sharks had not poached Mapoe from the Free Staters.

“The approach came from him and his agent after Mapoe’s legal advisers had told him the Free State Rugby Union had been in breach of contract.”

Free State Rugby Union president Harold Verster told reporters that the Cheetahs have “a watertight and valid contract with Mapoe” and they would not provide him with a clearance certificate.

Mapoe and his legal team were earlier this year involved in a battle with the Free State Union when it emerged that the wing was only being paid a junior contract although he was playing Super 14 rugby.

Free State reportedly agreed to follow the Super 14 guidelines and increase his salary, but — in spite of repeated warnings — they failed to do so and, according to Mapoe’s legal team, they are in breach of contract.

Van Zyl said that Mapoe, who missed much of the Super 14 because of injury, was still not match fit.

“But he will be ready to play for us when the Currie Cup starts in July.”

Van Zyl dismissed yesterday’s reports that former Springbok flyhalf Andre Pretorius had only to pass a fitness test to confirm a contract with the Sharks.

“I don’t know where that comes from. We have been looking at a number of flyhalves and Pretorius is just one of them, but to say that we are that far down the road is rubbish.”

Pretorius, a talented player on the rare occasions that he is fully fit, signed to play Super 14 rugby for the Western Force this season, but went down with a serious hamstring injury which required surgery and sidelined him for the entire competition.

Van Zyl said that the silly season had arrived early this year.

“It’s only May and there are all these strange reports. I see that we are supposed to be signing the Ebersohn brothers (from the Cheetahs). That is rubbish.”

Van Zyl said that another report claimed that the Sharks had made “a generous offer” to keep England flyhalf Andy Goode in Durban after the Super 14.

“I don’t know where these stories come from. I can promise you that no offer was made to Andy,” Van Zyl said.

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