Johannesburg – The Bulls have wasted no time in making their intentions known on the first day of the transfer window in South African rugby by raiding the already crippled Cheetahs.
The news of Cheetahs captain and Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss heading to Loftus Versfeld to join the Bulls at the end of the year spread like wildfire yesterday and the Bulls did not deny what will be their biggest signing this year.
But it is not Strauss alone that the Bulls are allegedly acquiring from the Cheetahs, with loose forward Lappies Labuschagne also set to join the kraal at the end of the season while they also have their eye on latest Springbok lock sensation Lodewyk de Jager.
However, the Bulls’ attempts to get the services of Cheetahs and Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane have been unsuccessful and Nyakane is reported to be heading to Cape Town to join the Stormers.
In the case of De Jager the Bulls will have to wait another year before being able to negotiate with him as he still has another year left in his contract with the Cheetahs.
It is the return of Strauss, though, that was the talking point yesterday. When the deal is eventually done it will see him return to the place where he made his professional debut in Currie Cup and Super Rugby, but then opted to leave instead of battling it out for the No2 jersey with Chiliboy Ralepelle.
Blue Bulls Company High Performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg last night refused to comment on the imminent signings of Strauss and Labuschagne but did confirm that the Bulls had lost the battle to secure the services of hooker Bongi Mbonambi.
The Bulls have been in a bid to retain Mbonambi’s services for the past few months but the former SA Under-20 hooker has rejected two offers to extend his contract which expires at the end of October with his primary reason being overlooked for Callie Visagie and a lack of game time.
Speculation is rife that Mbonambi will be leaving Loftus when his contract expires and heading to Cape Town to join the Stormers.
The arrival of Strauss at Loftus could see Springbok hooker Bandise Maku also requesting a release from his three-year contract. Maku is also citing lack of game time as the reason for him wanting to leave the Bulls less than a year after rejoining them from the Southern Kings.
Former Springbok wing Akona Ndungane is apparently close on concluding a one-year extension to his contract which will see him stay at Loftus until October 2015.
If Strauss does leave the Cheetahs it will be a crippling move for the Bloemfontein-based franchise as they have already lost the services of Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen to Racing Metro in France, Johan Sadie to Japan, Hennie Daniller to Zebre in Italy, Riaan Smit to Oyonnax in France, Ligtoring Landman to Newport and the Gwent Dragons, Phillip van der Walt to Biarritz, Nick Schonert to the Worcester Warriors, Kevin Luiters to the EP Kings and Andries Ferreira to Zebre.