Sharks lose another ex-Bok in long-serving Van den Berg

2010-02-09 00:00

THE Sharks have lost a second former Springbok lock in a week with Albert van den Berg confirming that he is to end his career in Japan.

The lanky and durable second-row forward — he turned 36 a fortnight ago — had a contract with the Sharks until the end of 2009. With his contract not being renewed for the current season, he has decided to end his playing days in Japan, where he has joined CANON on a one-year deal.

Last week former Sharks captain Johann Muller signed to join Ulster and will join the Irish club after the Super 14 ends.

Van den Berg, an athletic lineout specialist and exceptionally mobile, was an ideal impact player and spent most of his latter years playing off the bench, which allowed him to extend his career well beyond the usual sell-by date.

He joined the Sharks in 2000 from Griquas and enjoyed a remarkable run in Durban, becoming the most- capped Sharks player (171 caps) and overtaking Hugh Reece-Edwards and Steve Atherton (both 165 caps).

“It was a very special game for the Sharks in the semi-final of the Currie Cup last year.”

Van den Berg ended in the losing side that year, but there were numerous other highlights, including being in the Bok squad that won the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France and the Springbok team that won the Tri-Nations in 2004.

He also played in the Sharks team that won the Currie Cup in 2008.

Sharks CEO, Brian van Zyl yesterday paid tribute to Van den Berg.

“We would like to wish Albert and his family the very best for the future. His humble and calm manner has had a great influence on the players around him and he made a massive contribution to our rugby throughout his long career.”

The Sharks will miss the experience of Van den Berg and Muller, but they are looking to Steven Sykes (25), Alistair Hargreaves (23) and new signing Gerhard Mostert (25) to fill the gaps.

Meanwhile, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) yesterday confirmed that a hearing into a complaint against the Sharks and players Louis Ludik and Willem Alberts will be heard tomorrow.

The complaint was brought by the Golden Lions Rugby Union, who alleged that the Sharks — the commercial entity of the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union — had not secured the necessary clearance certificates required before contracting the players.

The Lions also charged that the two players remained under contract to them.

Koos Basson — the former chairman of the Saru disciplinary committee — has been appointed as judicial officer and will hear the complaint at Saru’s offices in Newlands tomorrow at 10 am.

Following an editing glitch, it was incorrectly reported in the Weekend Witness that senior advocate Jeremy Gauntlett would be chairing tomorrow’s SA Rugby Union’s disciplinary hearing in Cape Town.

Gauntlett will, in fact, be representing the Sharks at the hearing.

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