Sharks seem certain to lose another star as Muller mulls Ulster offer

2010-02-02 00:00

SPRINGBOK lock Johann Muller, who has been offered a two-year contract by Ulster, seems certain to be released by the Sharks after the Super 14 campaign.

The 29-year-old Muller, who led the Sharks to their Currie Cup triumph in 2008 and captained them last year, is contracted until the end of 2010. However, he has requested that he be released to take up an offer from the Belfast-based club.

Rudolf Straeuli, commercial manager of the Sharks, told The Witness yesterday that Muller has been approached with the offer.

“Yes, it is a definite possibility that he will go, but no final decision has been taken. He is under contract until the end of the year and we still have to decide whether to release him before the start of the Currie Cup season.”

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl said that the matter would be discussed by the Sharks board at their meeting in March.

The two-metre Muller, a hardworking, old-fashioned lock, made his debut for the Sharks in 2002. He played his first game for the Boks in 2006 and led them against the All Blacks in 2007.

Muller played impressively in the Super 14 last year and was in the Bok squad against the British Lions. However, he battled with injury from the start of the Currie Cup season after breaking his arm in the opening game against Western Province and he missed the Bok tour to Europe.

According to UK reports, Ulster’s operations manager, David Humphreys, made the offer to Muller in Durban and a similar offer has been made to Ruan Pienaar.

“They seem to be talking to all our players, even though they are all contracted,” Straeuli said.

Both Straeuli and Van Zyl said that Pienaar will not be released, even if he wants to go.

“Ruan is young and we’d never allow him to go at this stage of his career,” said Van Zyl.

Meanwhile, the Sharks are still waiting to hear about the SA Rugby Union (Saru) judicial hearing into the contract dispute involving Lions players Willem Alberts and Louis Ludik.

The Lions, who claim the two are still contracted to them, lodged a complaint with Saru when the Sharks fielded Alberts in the pre-season friendlies in Cape Town.

The Sharks, who have been waiting since November for the matter to be resolved, welcomed news of the hearing, but have not yet heard from Saru or judge Lex Mpati, the chairman of the judicial committee.

“I would have thought that I would have heard something by now,” Van Zyl said, “but we still have had no response from Saru. I hope this whole dispute is settled soon.”

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