Despite an approach to lure dynamic flank Marco van Staden overseas, the Vodacom Bulls have every intention to retain his services, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Van Staden has been one of the Bulls’ unsung heroes this domestic season, quietly going about his business to great effect as the Pretoria-based franchise won Super Rugby Unlocked, and now remain one win away from adding the Currie Cup to the trophy cabinet.
According to sources abroad, and independently verified by SARugbymag.co.za, Van Staden has caught the attention of overseas suitors – with the Leicester Tigers especially interested in luring him to England to replace Jordan Taufua.
As also reported in Rapport this past Sunday, there is said to be interest from a couple of French clubs, but the Bulls will understandably do everything in their power to secure a contract extension for the 25-year-old.
Earlier this season, Bulls coach Jake White raved about the impression Van Staden had made on him.
‘I must say, I didn’t know the players all that well before I got here, but people obviously rated him very highly. One thing we have been working hard on with breakdown coach Nollis [Marias] is for him to really make clever decisions at the breakdown.
‘Everyone knows he isn’t afraid to get in and have a full crack at the ball. But what I’ve really enjoyed the most about him is the way he’s really developed an understanding of when to go in or not. He’s been getting better and better at that. He’s also improved his ball carrying, and support play.’
The dynamic flank has just three Test caps to his name in a career that has been disrupted by injuries, but he is one of the few players who has significantly enhanced his reputation in the domestic competition.
Van Staden’s pathway to the Springbok No 6 jersey is obviously impeded by the fact Siya Kolisi remains the incumbent openside flank, but he increasingly looks like a player who would still add massive value to the Bok cause.
A national contract could offer financial assistance in keeping Van Staden in South Africa, but it’s likely that he will only weigh up his options once the Currie Cup is concluded this weekend.
The Bulls are blessed with depth in the back row – with Marcell Coetzee also set to arrive in Pretoria later this year – but Van Staden has proved his value as one of the most consistent local performers throughout this domestic season.
Yet, the knock-on effect is that this has also increased his market value in attracting interest from abroad.