Du Plessis brothers to stay

2013-07-11 00:00

THE Du Plessis brothers, Jannie and Bismarck, have committed themselves to staying with the Sharks, commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli said yesterday.

In the middle of silly season, and against a backdrop of uncertainty and acrimony in the Sharks camp, Straeuli has had the unenviable task of negotiating new contracts for a number of Springboks and high-profile players.

The Sharks have been thrown into some disarray by the sudden axing of the most experienced Super Rugby coaching staff in the country — John Plumtree, Hugh Reece-Edwards and Grant Bashford — and there have been wild, unsubstantiated reports of players wanting to leave.

“I don’t know where the stories come from,” Straeuli said. “I’ve been busy finalising contracts with a number of players and, as far as I know, only three are going.”

Straeuli was referring to centre Meyer Bosman, lock Jandre Marais and fullback Riaan Viljoen, who have been released from the Sharks and are joining overseas clubs. JP Pietersen and Ryan Kankowski are joining Japanese clubs for the rest of the year, but will be back in Durban next February to play in next year’s Super Rugby tournament.

Straeuli also dismissed speculation that the Du Plessis brothers were about to up sticks. “They haven’t signed their contracts yet but they and their agent have given a firm commitment to staying with the Sharks.”

Straeuli said he was still involved in negotiations with Willem Alberts and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

“But everyone else is on board and there are plenty of other players who want to come here,” he said.

What has been confirmed is that coaches Grant Bashford and Hugh Reece-Edwards, who have served as assistants to John Plumtree since 2008, will be in charge of their last Sharks’ game on Saturday.

Reece-Edwards admitted it would be an emotional occasion.

“Some of the players are also moving on but we really just want to go out and play some good rugby against the Kings.

“The players know they are coming off a good performance against the Bulls, and we want to finish off the season well and perhaps end in seventh place. That’s not good enough, but it’s far better than the 10th place we’re in now.”

Reece-Edwards said the Kings had proved they are a tough side to beat.

“They don’t give up and have the best tackle percentage in the competition. We can really expect a hard game. In two weeks’ time they also have a promotion-relegation match, but we can’t worry about whether or not that will be in the back of their minds.

“We’ve got to end well and from then on, and for those still involved, it will be a new campaign.

“There are players and coaches leaving, but it’s really just about the 80 minutes that’s going to count to whether it’s a good send-off or not. It’s about the rugby,” said Reece-Edwards.

Scrumhalf Charl McLeod, who has shown his old form in recent weeks, said the players were determined to end on a high for the coaches and players who were leaving.

“It’s the last game and we want to finish on a high to make it so much sweeter for all those who are leaving.”

The Sharks have had between 10 and 15 players injured for most of the campaign and McLeod said it had made a significant impact.

“Injuries definitely played their part. You can’t play your whole campaign with so many injured guys.

“I think you could see the difference it made in our pack when we got a couple of ball-carriers back [against the Blues and Bulls], so it might well have been a different story if we had those guys for the whole season.

“We’re obviously disappointed that we didn’t make the play-offs. We had big aspirations for this year and it didn’t work out for us.

“Now we can just hope to finish on a high,” McLeod said.

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm with Jonathan Kaplan the referee.

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