CAPE TOWN - If there is any truth to the reports that the Sale Sharks are negotiating to sign Lions star scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, it could be a major loss for South African rugby should the exciting No 9 decide to take the lucrative bait.
According to reports, De Klerk has been offered a three-year contract worth R21 million, which will see him become one of the highest paid players in the English Premiership if he puts pen to paper with the club.
Now whether this was prompted by De Klerk’s omission from the Springbok training camp or not, it sends out another powerful message regarding player retention and management.
De Klerk, who’s contracted to the Lions until the end of 2018, will either have to get an early release from the Lions, or the Sale Sharks will have to buy him out of his remaining obligations with the Johannesburg-based franchise.
After the second Bok training camp in Stellenbosch last week, Allister Coetzee said that the “door is not closed” for those players who weren’t included in the 41-man training group. But that’s not the point. He said it himself - they need to get their preparation right ahead of the three-Test series against France in June. And if De Klerk is part of his plan, why let him miss out on this apparently vital preparation by not including him in the training camp (he’s missed both so far, by the way)?
It just doesn’t make sense.
Worse yet, if De Klerk, who has made 11 appearances for the Boks, joins the English club, he will only be eligible to play for the Boks at the 2019 World Cup due to the new 30-Test cap policy.
Coetzee and co should definitely make a plan, and quickly, if they want to save themselves the headache of losing a player like Faf.
After all, he’s still Coetzee’s best bet at solving his Bok scrumhalf problems.
Why cut the Cheetahs?
Okay, so Sanzaar have decided on a three-conference, 15-team competition for 2018 featuring four teams from South Africa, four from Australia, five from New Zealand, plus the Jaguares and the Sunwolves.
Let me start off with the positives - at least they’ve now finally made a decision after quite some time, and SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux was very right indeed when he said the 18-team Super Rugby format has not worked, also when he added that “the integrity of the format and the lack of competition in too many matches were major issues that needed addressing”.
I fully agree with a return to a 15-team competition. But I think it should be a return back to an exclusively South African, New Zealand and Australian competition. Needless to say, I think that South Africa should stay in Super Rugby and not join the northern hemisphere in competition.
I think that Sanzaar should ditch this Asian and South American outreach program that they’re currently busy with. Why should we help build rugby in Japan and Argentina if there’s more than enough rugby to focus on here?
Obviously in this 15-team competition that I dream of, one team would have to go, and that can of course be the Kings - although they’ve been quite exciting to watch of late - and the Western Force (or the Rebels if I could have my way, but I know that won’t happen), and NOT the Cheetahs (I bet the only people who wouldn’t mind the Cheetahs being axed are those who would want the Free State talent to flock to their unions).