Cheetahs lock cited for elbowing Keegan Daniel

2009-10-21 00:00

WHILE Western Province were yesterday celebrating the landing of another big fish, both the Sharks and the Free State Cheehaths have had their locks cited following their weekend’s semi-final at King’s Park.

World-class centre Jaque Fourie has been cleared to leave the Lions and join Springbok team-mate and wing Bryan Habana in Cape Town for next year’s Super 14 while the Sharks’ Johann Muller and the Cheetahs’ David de Villiers are both facing disciplinary action following incidents in the semi-final.

After weeks of squabbling with the Golden Lions Rugby Union, and following arbitration, Fourie’s lawyer Frikkie Erasmus has confirmed that the burly centre has been cut free of his contract and had become a free agent.

“The arbitrator has decided that there is no forced agreement between Jaque and the GLRU and he will not be forced to play professional rugby for the Lions in the 2010 season,” Erasmus told News 24.

Advocate Schalk Burger, who headed the arbitration hearing, ruled that Fourie did not have a standard players’ contract with the GLRU and he was free to move to Cape Town.

Western Province manager Peet van Zyl said that Fourie will now be able to sign a two-year contract (November 1, 2009 to October 31, 2011) and he would fill the huge hole left by the experienced Bok Jean de Villiers in the midfield.

Lions president Kevin de Klerk reacted angrily to the news.

“I hope that Jaque will reconsider now that Dick Muir has become our coach. He must now live with himself, knowing he is one of our sons and we have nurtured him,” he said. “We will not let players go like we have allowed in the past.”

The ruling could benefit the Sharks who have the Lions’ powerful number eight Willem Alberts and fullback Louis Ludik on their shopping list. The pair have a similar contract to Fourie with the Lions and they could become available to offers from the Sharks from November 1.

Meanwhile, Sharks lock and former captain Johann Muller, who has had a disappointing season disrupted by injury, ended the Currie Cup with another injury and, reportedly, a citing for high tackle on Free State hooker Richardt Strauss.

The tackle, shortly before half-time in the semi-final, forced Strauss to leave the field at half time with a closed eye.

Muller himself left the field early in the second half with a leg injury but any suspension could prevent him being considered for the Springbok tour of Europe next month. However, his limited action in the Currie Cup following on-going problems with a broken arm would probably count against his selection anyway.

The repercussions of the citing of Cheetahs lock David de Villiers could be far more damaging.

De Villiers is alleged to have elbowed Sharks replacement flank Keegan Daniel late in the game and Free State’s lineout specialist could miss the Currie cup final against the Blue Bulls at Loftus on October 31.

De Villiers is to face a disciplinary hearing in Cape Town this morning. If banned, reserve lock Izak van der Westhuizen is likely to move up from the bench to face the two best locks in world rugby, Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha.

Cheetahs forward coach Barend Pieterse said it would be a major blow.

“It will be a big loss to play without a recognised lineout lock,’ he told reporters, “and it will disrupt our preparations.”

Pieterse again highlighted the inconsistencies of the citing process and said that Bakkies Botha had not been charged following his yellow-card at Newlands.

“It is disappointing to see David called in and Bakkies being cleared. I don’t even think David’s incident was big enough for this whole investigation.”

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