Kankowski heads for Japan

2012-06-22 00:00

THE 26-year-old Springbok number eight, Ryan Kankowski, has been released by the Sharks to play club rugby in Japan during this year’s Currie Cup season.

Kankowski,who is on the Springbok bench for tomorrow evening’s third and final Test against England in Port Elizabeth, will join the Toyota Verblitz club in Japan early in August and at the end of the Super Rugby competition. He will be back with the Sharks for their Super Rugby 2013 campaign in February.

Kankowski — one of the most exciting attacking loose forwards in world rugby — was first selected to present South Africa during the Springboks’ 2007 end-of-year tour to Wales and England.

In recent seasons he has suffered a string of injuries and has twice fractured his thumb. This year he has battled to cement his place in the Sharks starting line-up following the emergence of Test flank Marcell Coetzee and the excellent form shown by Keegan Daniel and Willem Alberts.

With Jacques Botes and Jean Deysel also in the Sharks squad, and a host of promising players in the junior ranks, the Sharks have excellent loose forward cover for the Currie Cup season.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl told The Witness yesterday that up-country reports that Kankowski had fallen out with coach John Plumtree were “absolute rubbish”.

“Ryan approached us months ago with the idea and we have agreed to release him for this six-month sabbatical to gain experience in the east.

“He will benefit by broadening his horizons and he will be back with us for the next Super Rugby competition.

“There is nothing sinister at all in this move. He is contracted with us until the end of 2013 and this way he also benefits by having a short stint overseas,” said Van Zyl.

News 24 reports that Springbok Wynand Olivier, who will start against England tomorrow, will join Kankowski in Japan.

Olivier, in contrast to Kankowski , is negotiating a two-year contract.

The pair could reportedly earn more than R500 000 per month playing in the Japanese league.

The Bulls, meanwhile, have suffered another major blow with talented young flank CJ Stander signing a two-year contract with Irish province Munster.

“We could not match the Munster offer — that is the reality of professional sport,” admitted Bulls chief executive Barend van Graan. “CJ was identified while still at school and formed part of our future planning.”

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