Where there’s smoke there’s fire and right now all the smoke is coming from the direction of Loftus where the Bulls are rumoured to be close to signing Cheetahs locks Sintu Manjezi, Walt Steenkamp and possibly bringing Jason Jenkins back.
Information coming from sources close to the contract negotiations that have been ongoing since the beginning of the 21-day "transfer window" have mentioned those three forwards as some of the players joining director of rugby Jake White in Pretoria.
Moreover, the Bulls are set to announce the return of prodigal son Arno Botha, 28, who will leave Munster after two years playing in the UK. The former Junior Springbok captain expressed his desire to re-enter the international fold to add to his paltry two Springbok caps, which he earned under then Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Manjezi, 25, has had a storming season for the Cheetahs and has blossomed since leaving the Southern Kings four years ago to try his luck at Griquas, where he impressed and earned a place in the Cheetahs PRO 14 side.
The almost 2m tall former St. Andrew’s College (Grahamstown) pupil has the build, physicality and lineout expertise that White relishes in second rowers and is set to be at the centre of the Bok coach’s rebuild at the Bulls.
If the deal is concluded for Jenkins, the highly promising 24-year-old blindside flank, who can also play first lock, will return from White’s former Japan Top League club Toyota Verblitz. He has only one Test cap to his name, earned against Wales in Washington in 2018. On the flip side Ian Groenewald, the 28-year-old former Maties lock, who made his Super Rugby debut under departed Bulls head coach Pote Human this year, is believed to be headed to Bloemfontein.Meanwhile, Sport24 has been reliably informed that openside flanker Andisa Ntsila has left the Sharks and will join the Cheetahs. Ntsila was released by the Kings last year before going on trial and eventually signing with the Durban union.However, lack of game time and a packed roster of loose-forwards has forced the 26-year-old to look elsewhere for playing opportunities.Staying with the Sharks, a deal involving star Springbok wing Makazole Mapimpi and a Japanese club is still a possibility. Mapimpi, 29, has been encouraged to cash in on his newfound superstardom after winning the Rugby World Cup by his representatives, especially considering his advanced age.As reported on Sport24, the Stormers could lose bright star Cobus Wiese to English club Sale Sharks after asking to be released from his contract immediately. The good news for the Capetonians is that they clung onto World Rugby player-of-the-year Pieter-Steph du Toit, who has decided to stay put. The Stormers also managed to hang onto young promising midfielder Rikus Pretorius, 21, who signed a new contract after attracting interest from the Bulls. The Lions are apparently in a desperate battle to hold onto two, so far unnamed, senior international players who have asked to be let go by the Johannesburg franchise.
According to SA Rugby’s Industry Strategic Plan, domestic players were given 21 days to opt out of their contracts and accept offers elsewhere or face up to 43% pay deductions as a means to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
Players have until midnight tonight to walk out on their contracts, while their parent unions or franchises are restricted from making counter offers.This is a developing story …