Two new signings for Sharks

2009-11-24 00:00

TWO of the Golden Lions’ most talented rugby players, massive number eight Willem Alberts and fullback/ wing Louis Ludik, have linked up with the Sharks and yesterday attended their first training session in Durban.

Their arrival was welcomed by Sharks coach John Plumtree, who said he was “excited to have them in what should be a very strong squad”.

The two will join another Lions forward, the two-metre tall, 120 kg lock Gerhard Mostert, who was signed by the Sharks late in the Currie Cup season.

The 25-year-old Alberts, at 1,92 metres and 116 kg, is one of the biggest loose forwards in world rugby and he will provide Plumtree with options to both number eight Ryan Kankowksi and bullocking flank Jean Deysel.

The fleet-footed Ludik, who has just turned 23, enjoyed an excellent Super 14 with the Lions this year, but a serious knee ligament injury against the British Lions at Ellis Park ended his season and prevented him representing the Emerging Springboks against the tourists.

While the pair have already moved to Durban, and are determined to play for the Sharks, the Golden Lions Rugby Union have yet to release them.

The players’ lawyer, Wilhelm Botes, said the Lions were frustrating efforts to gain their release by claiming that they still had them under contract. He added that the matter could still end in a court battle.

The players’ contracts are reportedly similar to the one signed by Jaque Fourie, which led to arbitration and, ultimately, the release of the Springbok centre to Western Province.

Peet van Zyl, who is the agent for both Alberts and Ludik, said that the players believe their chances of playing for the Springboks will improve by joining the Sharks.

“But a number of factors played a role in their decisions to move,” Van Zyl said.

Plumtree was enthusiastic about the new signings. “They will add depth, they will add competition for places and they will add a freshness to the Sharks squad,” he said.

The Sharks coach said that competition for places was one of the problems in the 2009 Super 14 season.

“For much of the season the team selected itself and that is not healthy. Now we will have Willem Alberts playing for a place and putting Jean Deysel and Ryan Kankowski under pressure to perform and keep performing. We also have young Michael Rhodes coming through well, so we have some seriously big guys competing at loose forward. And that is what you need if you are to break down defences in the modern game, big ball-carriers.”

Mostert will provide the Sharks with options at lock and add to the physicality of the pack, while Ludik, said Plumtree, would provide depth at fullback and wing “and perhaps even in midfield”.

“He is quick and an excellent all-round rugby player,” he added.

Plumtree said that the Sharks would probably have more competition for places at forward than amongst the backs.

“But I’m excited about the group of players we have. Now we have to channel all that talent into a team effort and that is the challenge if we are to have a successful Super 14 season next year.”

While the Sharks have started pre-season, Plumtree said that the Springboks would be integrated back into the squad on an individual basis.

“Some of the players who have toured with the Boks have been busier than others and they will all be assessed. But certainly a number need to be carefully managed.”

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