Jean Deysel back in key position for Sharks

2015-02-10 00:00

JEAN Deysel’s bulldozing runs will once again bring the King’s Park faithful to their feet, as the bulky flank is officially back in the Sharks fold ahead of the 2015 Super Rugby competition.

The Sharks couldn’t have received ­better news a week away from their first clash of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

The Durban side have bolstered their ranks in arguably the most influential ­positions — scrumhalf and flank.

Deysel will be joined by former Springbok scrumhalf Michael Claasens, who played against the Sharks last week for Toulon in their pre-season clash.

After six months plying his trade in Japan for Toyota Verblitz in Japan, Deysel agreed to return to Durban with immediate effect. He had amassed 117 caps in the Sharks jersey before leaving at the end of last year’s Super Rugby season.

Claassens, having been capped for the Springboks eight times, will join the Sharks after his playing commitments for Toulon have been wrapped up. The scrumhalf has signed a two-year contract with the Durban outfit.

He played for British club Bath ­between 2007 and 2013, earning 92 caps for the club side. Before his career up North, Claassens played for the ­Cheetahs from 2005 to 2007.

With Toulon still midway through the Top 14 season, Claassens might not be available until May, but is expected to be in Durban sooner than that.

Sharks CEO John Smit expressed his satisfaction with the signings — highlighting the talent of both players.

“We all knew it was a tough decision for Jean to make when he departed last year, as his heart has always been with the Sharks. We were very sad to lose a player of his calibre and you can imagine our delight that this loyal servant of Sharks Rugby has agreed to return home.

“Aside from his playing attributes, he also brings experience and strong ­leadership to the team environment, which is off great benefit,” Smit said.

“Michael Claassens is an experienced scrumhalf who will add great value and depth to our squad as well as mentor our very talented young scrumhalves. He has been playing well for Toulon and we look forward to welcoming him to the black and white.”

Their signings are especially significant considering the Sharks have been caught out in both positions with ­injuries in recent years. Having two ­experienced players in those key ­positions, which often have high rates of attrition, could prove influential in the months to come.

The likes of Willem Alberts, Deysel, Marcell Coetzee, Renaldo Bothma, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Bismarck du Plessis should bring real aggression and mongrel-spirit to the Sharks pack this season.

Meanwhile, Claassens’s mentoring roll could prove influential to the Sharks’ younger scrumhalves.

Cameron Wright impressed in the Currie Cup, but he will glean a tremendous amount of knowledge from ­Claassens, who has banked plenty of ­experience in South Africa and up north — as will the young Hanko Venter.

The Sharks will announce their full 40-man Super Rugby squad tomorrow, ahead of their first match of the competition against the Cheetahs this weekend in Durban. Kickoff is at 5.05 pm.

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