- Western Province coach John Dobson says the rumour about Siya Kolisi joining the Sharks "is just smoke" for the time being.
- The Cape side's mentor admits they could have their hands full retaining the services of their star players next year.
- Promising young lock David Meihuizen is in high demand in Scotland and England, while utility back Damian Willemse has been linked to the Bulls.
Western Province coach John Dobson has responded to rumours that some of their players are being courted by local and overseas clubs.
Players believed to be in high demand include captain Siya Kolisi, flyhalf Damian Willemse and promising young lock David Meihuizen.
"There's a lot of smoke and rumour at the moment... so much smoke that you think there must be fire ... nobody's told me officially that they're going [but] there was an article yesterday about Siya maybe in demand elsewhere in South Africa," Dobson told reporters during an online media briefing on Wednesday morning.
Dobson was responding to a report on Netwerk24 which indicated that Kolisi could swap WP for the Sharks.
It followed reports that American consortium MVM Holdings had set their sights on obtaining shares in the Durban franchise.
The company was earlier keen to invest $6 million in WP Rugby but it appears as though those negotiations have reached a dead end, with the union refusing to hand over control of its business arm.
Kolisi and other senior WP players were eager for the deal with MVM Holdings to take place, as it would have gone a long way to safeguarding the financial security of the union.
WP are hard at work ahead of a Currie Cup clash against the Pumas at Newlands, but Dobson admitted that he had a brief chat with his skipper about the Durban rumours.
"Siya is our leader and it is a distraction. I asked Siya yesterday if we needed to have a chat and he said 'let's get through Friday' ... which is a responsible and mature thing. But I don't think there's anything formal and there can't be anything formal until the contract window starts, so at this stage I would think the Siya thing is just smoke."
Dobson, though, admitted that the news about Kolisi possibly leaving was not his only headache.
"Nobody's told me officially that they're going, but I know that Harlequins (in England) are after a couple of our forwards. There's the perpetual rumour about Damian Willemse [going] to the Bulls.
"So there's a lot of smoke but the [transfer] window isn't open for those players for a couple of months still."
Meihuizen, a 23-year-old lock from the University of Cape Town, will start in the second row against the Pumas on Friday night and the coach said it was imperative to give him game time.
"David is a guy that's got to make a call on his future and we really want to keep him at this union. My understanding is that he's eligible for England and Scotland. And he's in high demand from Scotland... there have been formal approaches via his agent. Scotland are offering him an absolute fortune and he's a guy I want to keep here to I want to bring him through.
"You want to focus just on the rugby, but our group is tight and I've got no doubt that their focus is on the competition. That's not the reason why we lost the last two games.
"But we have to be realistic, I can't wait until next year when David Meihuizen comes to me and says 'listen, I got 30 minutes in the whole Currie Cup, that's not enough for my development'. I've got to be cognisant of that," Dobson added.
But the WP mentor stressed that, for the time being, unions and agents weren't allowed to negotiate deals outside the transfer window.
"With regards to other approaches and the contractual issues and people from other unions wanting players, that window is closed now, so it's not something I'm overly worried about now. I read it in the papers."
Dobson said he was happy with the depth being built in the squad.
"As disappointing as our results have been the last two weeks, I think we've done remarkably well [at bringing guys through] ... guys like Leon Lyons, Sazi Sandi, Nama Xaba, David Meihuizen and Marcel Theunissen... we've exposed a lot of guys which is part of our plan.
"We're playing in a new competition next year and we have got a lot of players coming off contract next year, so I have to create more depth in the squad. I have to create an environment where players want to stay at this union. That's an important part of our journey and also unfortunately adapting our playing style is also part of the thing because we are going to be playing in a different competition later next year."
Friday's clash at Newlands is scheduled for 19:00.
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Tristan Leyds, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 David Meihuizen, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes (from): 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Johan du Toit, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Kade Wolhuter, 23 Dan du Plessis, 24 Kwenzo Blose, 25 Marcel Theunissen, 26 Sihle Njezula
15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Ruwellyn Isbell, 10 Tiaan Botes, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Darrien Landsberg, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Ig Prinsloo, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Morgan Naude
Substitutes: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Wikus Groenewald, 18 Brandon Valentyn, 19 Ewart Potgieter, 20 Ginter Smuts, 21 Devon Williams, 22 Japie Kleinhans, 23 Liam Hendricks