Sharks new signings for next year get the lion’s share on flyhalf and second row

2012-10-30 00:00

THE Sharks have confirmed that the former Springbok flyhalf Butch James is coming home.

James, a product of Maritzburg College and the Sharks, has spent the last two seasons playing for the Golden Lions after ending his three-year stint playing for the Bath Rugby Club in England.

Sharks commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli said last night that James had yet to “undergo his medical and sign the Super Rugby contract, but he will be coming back as back-up to Pat Lambie at flyhalf”.

Coach John Plumtree has already indicated that Lambie would be used as the Sharks first-choice flyhalf in Super Rugby.

James has spent the season playing as back-up to Springbok Elton Jantjies at the Lions, but the 33-year-old has shown impressive form, both in controlling games and in kicking goals, when used in the pivot role.

Straeuli said that James would also be used in a mentoring role at King’s Park and would work with junior Sharks flyhalves and kickers.

The Sharks, said Straeuli, had contracted all their leading players for next year apart from lock Steven Sykes, who is returning to his family farm in the Eastern Cape and will play for the EP Kings next year.

The Sharks have replaced him with new Springbok second-row forward Franco van der Merwe, who will move to Durban from the Lions on loan.

Meanwhile, the Springboks could be without their in-form flank Francois Louw for the three-Test tour of the UK.

Louw suffered a neck injury during Bath’s Premiership weekend win over Exeter on Saturday and the injury will be assessed during the week.

Louw was scheduled to play for Bath against London Welsh on Sunday before joining the Springboks in Dublin.

The Boks open their tour against Ireland on November 10.

Former Springbok assistant Gary Gold, who is the Bath’s director of rugby, told reporters that Louw took a bang to the head in scoring his team’s third try at the weekend.

“It looks like he’s compacted the vertebrae in his neck, so he’s in a lot of pain at the moment, but we will have to evaluate the injury [during the week].”

Marcell Coetzee, the Sharks flank who played off the bench in the Rugby Championship, would be an obvious replacement in the starting line-up if Louw is sidelined.

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