Saru deals for Sharks

2013-11-13 00:00

TEN Springboks have been contracted by the South African Rugby Union (Saru) until the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and half of them are Sharks.

Saru CEO Jurie Roux yesterday confirmed the names of the 10 players who have been awarded long-term national contracts that will keep them in South Africa until the end of 2015.

The five Sharks are front-rowers Beast Mtawarira and the Du Plessis brothers, Bismarck and Jannie, flank Willem Alberts and centre Frans Steyn. (Jannie du Plessis and Steyn are not on the current tour because of injury).

There are four Western Province Springboks among the contracted players. They are captain Jean de Villiers, backrowers Duane Vermeulen and Siya Kolisi, and the world-class lock Eben Etzebeth.

Second-choice hooker, Free Stater Adriaan Strauss, is the only player outside Durban and Cape Town to be contracted.

While Roux and coach Heyneke Meyer have successfully tied down all their most experienced players who have not already signed for overseas clubs, it is vital that they now contract a number of the talented youngsters. Heading that list is towering Sharks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, who seems certain to become one of the hottest properties in world rugby, flyhalf/fullback Pat Lambie and Bulls centre Jan Serfontein.

Saru and the SA Players’ Association (Sarpa) have every reason to be concerned at the number of high-profile Springboks who are chasing lucrative overseas contracts. Indeed, eight of the 23 who played against Wales on Saturday are now based with foreign clubs.

Three of them, JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie and Fourie du Preez, are strutting their stuff on the Japanese stage, Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn and Gurthrö Steenkamp are playing in France, Francois Louw is with Bath and Ruan Pienaar is contracted to Ulster.

A ninth overseas-based player, Toulon lock Bakkies Botha, is certain to see action against Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday.

The Witness has learnt that former Sharks scrumhalf Rory Kockott, in sublime form for Castres and recently voted Top 14 player of the year in France, has turned down an offer to make himself available for the Springboks because he becomes eligible for Les Bleus next year.

Roux said yesterday’s announcement was the first step in ensuring a core of top players remain in South Africa, and that the process of contracting more players for 2014 and 2015 is already in place and will be completed in agreement with Sarpa.

“This is all part of our long-term planning to ensure we retain key Springboks in South Africa as we prepare for the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015,” said Roux. “The door is by no means shut for any other players to be awarded national contracts for the next two seasons.

“We are doing everything in our power to keep players in South Africa and reward them accordingly. The players, through Sarpa, are fully part of the process to ensure the best possible workable model of remuneration.

“Obviously, we have some limitations. We’re working with the provincial unions, but times are tough financially and in some instances we simply can’t compete with what players are offered to play abroad. We’re also not in a position to contract 40 to 50 top players, although it would be ideal if we could do that.”

Sharks players awarded Bok contracts:

Beast Mtawarira

Bismarck du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Willem Alberts

Frans Steyn.

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