Steyn too pricey for the Sharks

2012-05-11 00:00

THE future of Springbok and former Sharks centre Frans Steyn and the Lions franchise could well be decided at two special meetings of the SA Rugby Union (Saru) in Johannesburg next Thursday.

The 24-year-old Steyn, following discussions with new Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, turned down a lucrative offer to extend his contract with French Top 14 club Racing Metro in favour of playing Test rugby again.

Steyn spoke to Sharks officials after the Rugby World Cup and was apparently keen to return to Durban. But the Sharks, and indeed none of the five South African franchises, can afford the millions needed to contract the powerful utility back and at present he has no rugby home.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl said yesterday he had not heard from Steyn since their meeting late last year.

“I’m completely in the dark regarding his plans,” he said.

The first meeting next Thursday will be to discuss this thorny issue of Springbok contracts and will involve the five Super Rugby franchises and Saru.

The franchises will argue that Saru should pay a greater proportion of the Springboks’ salaries, which will enable them to keep high-profile players like Steyn in the country.

The second meeting will involve an even more complicated issue — accommodating the Southern Kings franchise in next year’s Super Rugby competition — and Saru president Regan Hoskins, among others, will attend.

The Kings have been guaranteed a place in next year’s tournament though no one knows how they will be squeezed in and who will make way.

The popular view is that the Lions, the franchise with the worst Super Rugby record and battling again this year, will make way for the Kings.

But as one official said, kicking the Lions out of Super Rugby without a relegation game could result in court action, particularly as existing contracts with players and sponsors are involved.

Saru recently cancelled a proposed meeting with Sanzar after their idea of expanding the competition was shot down by their New Zealand and Australian counterparts.

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