‘Beast’ wants to stay in Durban

2010-12-22 00:00

THE Beast, the popular Sharks and Springbok prop, seems certain to continue playing his rugby in Durban rather than Johannesburg.

The Golden Lions, bankrolled by IT tycoon Robert Gumede and with Springbok assistant coach Dick Muir as their director of rugby, are making desperate attempts to lure Tendai Mtawarira to the highveld.

Mtawarira signed a new three-year deal with the Sharks in October, but the Lions believe they can take advantage of loopholes in Mtawarira’s current contract and entice him away from Durban by offering him millions of rands.

Rudolf Straeuli, the Sharks’ commercial manager, met Mtawarira yesterday and told The Witness that he is confident the Beast will honour his contract and stay in Durban.

Speculation about the Beast’s move to the Lions started last week when the prop was away on honeymoon, but he was back in Durban yesterday to undergo his pre-season physical tests and to meet Straeuli.

“All I would say is that the Beast has a contract with us and he told me he wants to stay,” said Straeuli.

Jeremy Thomson, the lively Natal centre of the 1990s, has acted as Mtawarira’s mentor since his move from Zimbabwe to Durban and has been been involved in negotiations.

“Look, we don’t want to get into a wrangling match in the media and it is a sensitive issue,” he told The Witness.

“What I can tell you is that Tendai is an honourable guy. I have travelled a long road with him and I can tell you that he is not trying to play off the Sharks against the Lions. There are some issues, but they will be resolved quickly, probably early in the new year, and they will be resolved amicably.”

The Lions have already signed Rory Kockott, Lionel Mapoe, Pat Cilliers and Michael Rhodes from the Sharks.

While the Sharks released Cilliers and Rhodes and expect Kockott to leave as he dropped down the pecking order among the scrumhalves in the Sharks squad, the signing of Mapoe did hurt. And the loss of Mtawarira would be an even bigger blow.

But the indications are that the Beast is happy in Durban, he wants to play his rugby for the Sharks and the problems he does have with his contract will be resolved.

Meanwhile, Straeuli leaves this week for Europe where he plans to mix a family holiday with a couple of overseas signings.

The Sharks have a strong Super 15 squad, but there are one or two areas where coach John Plumtree wants to add further depth for what will be a long and demanding competition.

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