Steyn silent on contract

2009-02-02 00:00

THE Sharks are hoping the combination of job satisfaction and Springbok rugby will keep the precociously talented Frans Steyn in Durban for the next few years.

Steyn has signed a contract with the Sharks and the Springboks until December this year, but weekend reports from France claim he is top of Racing Metro’s shopping list and he will be offered in excess of R4 million a season to move next year.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl has said that negotiations with all the leading players in the squad started last year and most have signed two-year contracts (until the end of 2010).

Steyn is one of the few who has not yet signed for 2010 and this has led to speculation that he will move next year.

“I have seen reports that there is interest in Frans from European clubs, although we have not been approached officially.”

Van Zyl said South African franchises cannot compete financially with offers from the richest clubs in Europe, “but we have other factors in our favour”.

The rugby environment in Durban, he said, and the carrot of playing for the Springboks, “could strengthen our position in the negotiation process”.

Commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli said last night that the Sharks were, “committed to keeping the current squad together”.

“We have offered very good deals to the players and nearly everyone has signed until 2010.

Frans is one of the few that has not, but he is contracted to us until December and negotiations with him for 2010 are ongoing.

“We want to retain him and we have a clause in his contract which allows us to match any other offer. But at the moment all we have is speculation and we cannot really do anything until we see an offer in writing.”

Straeuli said that playing club rugby in wet and cold Europe also had its downside.

“I think anyone wanting to leave South Africa to play in Europe should first chat to John Smit and Victor Matfield. They may get the other side of the story.”

Both Smit and Matfield gained early releases from their French contracts last year and both senior Springboks are back playing in South Africa.

Meanwhile, the Sharks are gearing up for their friendly against the Bulls at King’s Park tomorrow.

The Bulls, in spite of losses to the Lions and the Cheetahs in their pre-season friendlies, are expected to field a weakened team.

Sharks coach John Plumtree said he will field close to his first-choice line-up and he is looking for a tough, physical contest ahead of the Super 14 opener against the Stormers on February 14.

The Bulls, he said, were probably satisfied with their pre-season preparation but the Sharks still needed a hard contact match before the Stormers game.

The match starts at 5 pm tomorrow and there is no charge for 2009 season ticket holders. Tickets are R20 for adults and R10 for scholars.

• Bulls’ Bok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez will not be in action tomorrow though the injury to his hand is not as serious as first reported. The Bulls website reported yesterday that he has not fractured his hand and will be able to play against the Reds at Loftus Versfeld in two weeks’ time.

The Bulls’ medical team reported that Du Preez’s thumb is badly bruised but the X-rays revealed that there are not any fractures.

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