No more Sharks for Butch James

2008-09-30 00:00

Springbok flyhalf Butch James has almost certainly played his last game for the Sharks.

The 29-year-old, who overcame a series of serious knee injuries to play an influential role in the Springboks’ World Cup triumph last year, has reportedly agreed on terms to play for three more years with Bath Rugby Club.

James last month said that he hoped to end his rugby career with the Sharks, but the three-year deal with Bath has now scuppered that plan.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl confirmed yesterday that James had wanted to return to Durban and the Sharks.

“But Butch wanted a three-year deal and unfortunately we could not match the Bath offer - either financially or in the length of the contract.”

With Frederic Michalak returning to France at the end of the Currie Cup, Ruan Pienaar happier at scrumhalf than flyhalf and Francois Steyn most effective at inside centre, the Sharks would have welcomed James back at flyhalf for next year’s Super 14. But there were clearly fears that his wobbly knees, and years of non-stop rugby, would prevent him seeing out a long-term contract.

The Bath offer is aimed at keeping James with the English club for the remainder of his career.

James helped steer Bath to a 37-19 win over Worcester at the weekend, lifting his team into second place behind Guinness Premiership leaders Sale.

Bath had said they wanted James on a long-term contract along with fellow South African, scrumhalf Michael Claassens, who has already signed up until the end of the 2009/10 season.

Overseas reports suggest that James and the club would confirm the new three-year deal before the former Sharks flyhalf joins up with the Springboks’ northern hemisphere tour in November.

James has said he wanted to end his Test career against the British Lions in South Africa next year.

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