Sharks protest about Muir as Du Plessis brothers sign

2009-10-24 00:00

THE Du Plessis brothers, hooker Bismarck and prop Jannie, have finally committed themselves to the Sharks, turning down offers from Dick Muir and the Lions and opting to stay on in Durban.

The front-row forwards have received numerous offers, with the Lions, Bulls and the Stormers leading the chase. Finally, after months of negotiation and procrastination, the pair this week signed fresh two-year contracts with the Sharks.

It is believed that Muir, who was appointed as the new Lions coach last week, was keen to persuade the two brothers to move to Johannesburg. The fact that Jannie du Plessis sat on the bench in the Currie Cup semi-final and played no part in the Sharks’ defeat by the Cheeetahs last Saturday, may well have provided Muir, a former Sharks coach, with additional ammunition. But, in the end, the brothers have honoured their verbal commitment to current head coach John Plumtree that they would stay on with the Sharks.

CEO Brian van Zyl said that the Lions, Bulls and Stormers were among the many teams who had been chasing the Du Plessis brothers, the only Sharks players who had not yet signed contracts for the 2010 season.

Van Zyl also confirmed yesterday that the Sharks have lodged an official protest with SA Rugby about the appointment of Muir, who is also a Springbok assistant coach, to the Lions.

“We are convinced there is a conflict of interests. A couple of years ago we had the same thing when Alan Solomons was assistant Bok coach and was involved with the Stormers, and attempts were made then to persuade Sharks players to move to Cape Town.”

Van Zyl said that the involvement of coaches at both Super 14 and international level could place pressure on players to move.

“We think there is conflict but SA Rugby obviously did not agree because they endorsed Muir’s appointment as Lions coach.”

The signing of the competitive, abrasive Bismarck du Plessis, regarded as one of the leading hookers in world rugby, and Jannie du Plessis, a strong tighthead, will provide head coach John Plumtree with numerous options in the front-row. And, after the untidy scrummaging performance against the Cheetahs in the semi-final, Plumtree needs all the help he can get in that area.

It will also be good news for Springbok captain and tighthead John Smit who at 31 is nearing the end of his career and needs to be carefully managed if he is to play on until the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

The signing of the Du Plessis brothers means that the Sharks have lost just one of their high profile players from the Super 14 this year. Frans Steyn moved to France at the end of the international season and the Sharks have replaced him with Argentinian flyhalf Juan Hernandez.

The burly Lions number eight Willem Alberts and fullback Louis Ludik are both keen to leave Johannesburg and join the Sharks next year if they can resolve their contractural dispute with the Lions.

Gerhard Mostert, the 120kg Lions lock who has been injured for most of the season, has already signed with the Sharks.

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