Sharks’ Afrikaners: skipper denies rift

2013-05-15 00:00

KEEGAN Daniel and his bosses at King’s Park last night reacted angrily to allegations made against the Sharks captain.

A reporter based in Johannesburg claimed yesterday that Daniel had said that he was unhappy and felt isolated because of the many Afrikaners involved in Sharks rugby.

Sister newspaper Beeld, quoting “reliable sources”, maintained that Daniel’s statement had annoyed a number of Afrikaners in the squad and divided the players.

The Anglo-Boer War was being fought again in Sharks’ rugby, according to the report, stating that only six players out of the 22-man squad that lost to the Reds in Brisbane last week were not Afrikaners. They are Daniel, Lwazi Mvovo, Pat Lambie, Kyle Cooper, Odwa Ndungane and Monde Hadebe.

Daniel, speaking from Perth last night, said he was shocked to hear of the allegations. “I can’t believe that someone would say this about me in order to try and sell newspapers. It is an attack on my integrity, which is very disappointing, and it is most untrue.

“I have never had a problem with any person in our rugby squad.

“Since this report surfaced I have had nothing but support from my team-mates of all cultures.”

Daniel said that there was a lesson in this incident for the young players in his squad.

“When a team is struggling with form, you become an easy target.”

Earlier in the day, Daniel had been more lighthearted in his response to the report. Posting a picture of himself in a coffee shop, alongside three Afrikaans team-mates — Franco van der Merwe, Jannie du Plessis and Pieter-Steph du Toit — he tweeted: “Just getting a quick lesson in Afrikaans before training. Your thoughts?”

Bulls captain and Afrikaans-speaking Springboks number eight Pierre Spies enjoyed his reaction: “Moooooi manne! [Nice, men],” Spies tweeted.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl said the Sharks strongly condemned the article, “which borders on sensational and tabloid journalism”.

“The report is unsubstantiated and irresponsible and we strongly deny that any such rift is evident in the camp,” he said.

Van Zyl said the team’s strength had always been its diversity.

“The same squad pulled together less than 12 months ago to get into the Super Rugby final. They play for each other and their jersey.

“The cultural and language demographics within the team are a strength from which the team has drawn.”

Van Zyl said he had spoken to Sharks coach John Plumtree and the team management in Perth.

“At a team meeting which took place this afternoon [yesterday] all the players stood firmly behind Keegan Daniel as captain.”

He said the Sharks were focused on Friday’s match against the Force, “and they are determined to end their tour on a positive note”.

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