'Shocked' Watson gets the boot
Sharks flanker Luke Watson says he was shocked when he learned on Monday that he had been released from the provincial squad and will not play competitive rugby until the Super 12 begins in February next year.
At the weekend, Watson confirmed the much-hyped speculation that he would join Western Province on a two year deal when he signed a contract with the Cape-based team.
However, the youngster had still envisaged a role with the Sharks during the Currie Cup this year, especially with the tournament nearing the business end of the competition.
"I will not be joining Western Province until the Super 12 training starts in December," said Watson last night.
"My loyalties lie with the Sharks and I was informed that I had been released and was shocked," said Watson.
"This is not my request and I had nothing to do with it."
However, Watson said that he did not want to blow the issue out of proportion, even though he will now be out of active rugby until he dons the black-and-white of the Stormers next year.
He said he did not want his parting with the Sharks to be acrimonious in any way.
"I'm not going to argue or debate the decision and I want to leave on a positive note.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Durban and have grown as a player here. But to get to the next level I had to leave.
"I'll be in PE sorting out my life and preparing for my new life in Cape Town," he added.
Sharks coach Kevin Putt said on Monday night that Watson's omission "in no way reflects the way he plays or mentality".
"It's simply a process and we have to take the team forward and stick with players who are going to be there in the future.
"In terms of cover for the open-side flank we have more than capable players in Solly Tyibilika, Warren Britz, Shaun Sowerby, Bertus Mulder, Marc de Marigny and AJ Venter."
Meanwhile, the Sharks held separate practices for the forwards and backs yesterday.
The highly successful College Rovers coach Sean Everitt, whose charges have won both the Premier League Moor Cup and Murray Cup knockout competition, was invited to give his input during the backline session.
"Sean Everitt was down to share some of his coaching knowledge. We share some of the same thinking on backline play, and it was a nice change for the players to get someone new in," said Putt.
As for the injury list, props BJ Botha (ankle) and Deon Carstens (leg) have not been cleared for duty yet, while big centre Trevor Halstead (ankle) still has to undergo a fitness test.
Putt is finally expected to be appointed as the Sharks Super 12 coach later this week.
SA Rugby was scheduled to name the coaches of the Super 12 franchises yesterday but they will make the announcements at a later stage.
When Putt took over the team from Rudolf Straeuli in 2002, he was given a three-year contract with the Sharks and thus it is highly unlikely that he will not be in charge of the team next year.