Viljoen rejoins Sharks

2011-11-26 00:00

FORMER Springbok fullback Riaan Viljoen, back in Durban after a break of seven years, is hoping to use the Sharks as a stepping stone to playing Test rugby.

Viljoen has joined the Sharks from Griquas and was out with the pre-season training squad at King’s Park this week.

Viljoen (28), who attended Klerksdorp High, spent three years in Durban after leaving school, joining Crusaders and playing junior rugby for the Sharks. He then spent three years with the Falcons before being signed by Griquas and playing Super Rugby for the Cheetahs (2009-2011).

He toured Europe with the Springboks at the fag-end of 2009.

Viljoen is a talented player with a wide range of skills and a prodigious boot and Griquas even used him in the flyhalf role in this year’s Currie Cup.

“It’s great to be back at the coast, certainly my wife is very happy with this decision, there is a good vibe here,” he told the Sharks website yesterday.

“It can be tough moving to a new union, but the Sharks guys made me feel so welcome right from the start,” he said. “This is a very professional set-up, the best outfit ever for me.”

Viljoen says his initial goal is nailing down a regular place in the Sharks starting line-up.

“I want to play regularly, consistently gain selection to the match squad and make a mark in the Sharks jersey. And from there I hope to make it into the Springbok squad as well.”

He said the weather in Durban and the success of the Sharks in recent years had been major attractions.

“The weather is great, that makes it easy to come to Durban, and playing for The Sharks was always something I wanted to do.

“The fact that The Sharks have been successful in the last few years also influenced my decision to play my rugby here. You want to come to play for a team that’s playing winning rugby, not a team struggling to win …”

He said he enjoyed playing an expansive, counter-attacking game and hoped that his style of play would suit the Sharks.

“The Sharks play open, running rugby and that’s what I like.”

He is also delighted that he is now running with the giants, the big men like Willem Alberts, Jean Deysel and Bismarck du Plessis, rather than trying to topple them.

“I’m looking to playing with the big guys and not getting in their way,” he said with a smile.

Meanwhile, discarded Sharks centre Adi Jacobs, who returned to his family home in Cape Town on Tuesday, could sign for the Stormers.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has been in talks with Jacobs and said yesterday that the chunky 31-year-old centre would be welcome to join his pre-season training squad.

Lions flyhalf Burton Francis is also training with the Stormers and Coetzee is considering offering both contracts.

Jacobs, who has talked about retiring, is weighing up his options and Coetzee said he had spoken to him on Wednesday.

“I told him he can contact me once he is settled in,” Coetzee told News24 yesterday.

Coetzee will be without a number of talented young backline players next year with Johann Sadie joining the Bulls and Tim Whitehead now with the Sharks.

Jaque Fourie, playing in Japan, will miss the opening month of Super Rugby and Coetzee lacks experienced back-up for Jean de Villiers and Juan de Jongh.

“Adi looks more and more like a guy that could fit in,” he said.

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