Sharks now want money for mapoe before releasing the sevens wing to the Lions

2011-02-17 00:00

SPRINGBOK sevens wing Lionel Mapoe, who has contracts with both the Sharks and the Lions, could miss the opening round of Super Rugby.

Sanzar will not allow Mapoe to play while he is still on the books of two franchises and unless swift action is taken by the Lions this week he will miss their Super Rugby opener against the champion Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday night.

The Sharks washed their hands of Mapoe last November but, on a matter of principle, now want to recover their expenses before releasing him to play for the Lions.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl told The Witness yesterday that he and coach John Plumtree wanted nothing more to do with Mapoe who had gone behind their backs to Johannesburg and signed a contract with the Lions.

The Sharks had been locked in a four-month dispute with Free State over the services of Mapoe who left Bloemfontein after last year’s Super 14 and settled in Durban.

Mapoe, alleging that he had been grossly underpaid and exploited by Free State, signed a Sharks contract in May, had his salary bumped up and underwent rehabilitation for an injury before joining Plumtree’s squad at practice. Free State first sought arbitration and then took Mapoe and the Sharks to the Supreme Court to force the wing to return to Bloemfontein and play his rugby for the Cheetahs.

Mapoe refused to return and, backed by the Sharks, he was waiting on a High Court appeal when the Lions entered the ring last November and then did a financial deal with Free State, apparently offering the Cheetahs a transfer fee of R1,2 million.

“Plum and I question the integrity and the morals of the player,” Van Zyl said at the time. “We backed him all the way, paying his salary, providing him with rehab and supporting him all the way in his legal battles.

“He then goes off on his own, without telling his agent, and does his own deal with the Lions. We don’t want him here now.”

Van Zyl said the Sharks would be taking steps to recover salary of R600 000 paid to Mapoe since June, the heavy costs of rehabilitation and the substantial legal fees incurred in fighting Mapoe’s case in the Bloemfontein courts.

“We are still waiting to hear about our High Court appeal and it has been months now,” Van Zyl said yesterday. “What is certain is that Mapoe cannot play while he is registered with two different franchises. He is in limbo.

Van Zyl said that the Sharks did not want Mapoe back in Durban.

“But we are not just going to roll over and release him without being reimbursed,” he added.

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