Claassens keen for two wins to sweeten his stay

2015-10-01 06:00

ITINERANT Springbok scrumhalf Michael Claassens, who has divided his 12-year playing career between the Free State Cheetahs, Bath and Toulon, has now settled with the Sharks and is here to stay.

The 32-year-old, who played eight Tests for the Springboks between 2004 and 2007, was signed by the Sharks after the Super Rugby season on a three-year contract.

He is confident that the Sharks, struggling to reach the Currie Cup playoffs, have the makings of a highly-competitive Super Rugby team.

“This is a really great club and I am really enjoying myself. We are not far away from getting it right. We had our chances against the Lions, WP and the Bulls and were so close.”

Claassesn says that the development of young talent in the Currie Cup, boosted by the eight to 10 experienced players who are either World Cup Springboks, new signings or returning from Japan, will provide the Sharks with a powerful squad next year.

But, for the moment, all the attention is on winning their two remaining games against Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday and then Free State in Bloemfontein a week later.

“We know we have to win both games to have a chance of reaching the semi-finals.”

Claassens spent the first five years of his career with the Cheetahs (2003-07). “I was then made an offer by Bath and Butch [James] and I went across together on a two-year contract.

“I loved it so much in Bath that I stayed for six years.”

Claassens then moved to Heineken Cup champions Toulon. “I always wanted to spend time in France and it was a chance to join some world-class players,” he said.

One of the many internationals was the celebrated England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson, who ended his glittering rugby career with Toulon last year.

“I have never seen a more dedicated, committed player than him,” says Claassens. “If he missed a kick on a Saturday, he would be out on the Sunday, practising for two hours and then perhaps doing some gym work.”

Claassens was with the leading French club for three seasons before he received the Sharks offer this year.

“I always wanted to come back to South Africa.

“My wife was pregnant with twins so it was a good time to come home and settle down.

“I have always admired the Sharks and Durban is a great place to live.”

Claassens admits that it would be even more enjoyable if the Sharks were winning more games.

“But we are not far away. It is just those small errors which have cost us.”

Saturday’s game in Kimberley kicks off at 3 pm and Rasta Rasivhenge will be the referee

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