Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee says Siya Kolisi ticks every box about what the franchise is about after completing his move from Western Province on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the Sharks officially confirmed that Kolisi has signed a multi-year contract with the Durban franchise after he was released early from his contract with Western Province.
It will be the first time that Kolisi plays for a union other than Western Province and the Stormers, having spent his entire professional career in the Western Cape.
During the official announcement media conference in Durban, Coetzee expressed his excitement at finally being able to confirm the signing of the Springbok captain.
‘What an unbelievable day for Sharks rugby. We started building something special two years ago and today is an important step in the right direction,’ Coetzee said.
‘Someone asked me earlier, how long was the negotiation period? It wasn’t as long as you would think. When a player of the likes of Siya Kolisi comes on to the market, you have to act. He ticks every single box that Sharks rugby is about. He is an unbelievable human, he is the best captain and proved it in 2019 while taking our country to be world champions and, on the field, he is an unbelievable rugby player.
‘For us, it was a very easy decision. When people with likeminded views meet, often the discussions are very simple.’
It was thought that MVM Holdings’ investment in the Sharks has proved key in convincing Kolisi to move to Durban. This is especially considering that a member of the consortium is Vincent Mai (chairman and CEO of Cranemere LLC), who hails from the Eastern Cape and has a strong bond with Kolisi. Among Marco Masotti’s partners there is also Michael Yormark, president of Roc Nation Sports International, who have Kolisi on their books.
However, Coetzee rejected claims that the Sharks’ partnership with Roc Nation was the decisive part in bringing Kolisi to the team.
‘One thing we have to state off the cuff, there is not a transactional element to the Roc Nation contract. We didn’t sign with Roc Nation to get Siya Kolisi and Siya didn’t sign with us to get Roc Nation.
‘From a business-strategy point of view, it makes sense for us to be aligned with Roc Nation. We are all about off-the-field player engagement and fan engagement. Our marketing and social-media followings aren’t the biggest in South Africa for no reason, we put a lot of emphasis on that.
‘Roc Nation is Siya’s commercial agent and commercial agents don’t do rugby player deals. So there is a correlation, but that isn’t the deciding factor. It is very exciting to work with Roc Nation and long may that relationship continue.
‘I honestly believe that Siya Kolisi would be sitting here today, even if it wasn’t for Roc Nation.’
In explaining how the deal came about, Coetzee said that it was a ‘matter of weeks’ after Kolisi was given permission to be released early from his WP contract.
‘The way it works in South African rugby is that there are player contracting windows. We were waiting patiently for that because we heard that some players had come on to the market.
‘The way it unfolded was that Western Province made an offer to Siya and he didn’t accept it and they pushed him for an answer. Then he got special consent to go on the market. As soon as that happened, it was a matter of weeks for us to agree terms. As I said, when people with a shared vision come together, then it doesn’t take too long.’
Photo: Photo: Steve Haag Sports