Coach Jake White has cleared the air over players such as Frans Steyn and Marcell Coetzee who have been linked to the Vodacom Bulls. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
This past weekend, it was reported that Steyn was one of two Cheetahs players potentially on the Bulls’ radar – the other said to be vice-captain and flank Junior Pokomela.
It’s something, at face value, that wouldn’t appear beyond the realms of possibility when one considers that the Cheetahs’ future is still clouded in some doubt after losing their Pro14 status, which could presumably result in players seeking opportunities to continue playing top-flight rugby.
Yet, there is still no clarity on exactly what the outcome of continued talks between the Cheetahs and SA Rugby will be, while it also remains to be seen whether the possibility of players moving around on ‘loan deals’ could become a reality.
When asked about the latest talk of Steyn and Pokomela being linked to the Bulls, White didn’t shy away from the question.
‘There’s no truth to those rumours. I have coached him [Steyn] a lot, but the reality is that Frans has a contract with Free State.
‘Going forward, there’s no doubt he’d want to play some sort of rugby if we wants to play in the British & Irish Lions series, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to come to the Bulls, or that we’re trying to bring him here.
‘When it comes to Junior Pokomela, I can tell you I think we’ve got enough loose forwards and I don’t think getting another loose forward like him would help his career coming here. We’ve still got someone like Muller Uys who hasn’t played much rugby for us this year, and with juniors we’re also bringing through the ranks I can’t see us leapfrogging someone like him above those in our system, so there’s also no truth to that.
‘Let’s have a look and see once we get finality on when we’re playing, who we’re playing, where Free State will fit in, then I’m sure all the dominoes will fall into place,’ White said.
Earlier this year, Coetzee was another player said to be on the Bulls’ long-term wish list to bring the highly-regarded Ulster-based Springbok to Pretoria.
Asked whether he was still talking to Coetzee, White replied ‘as often as I can’ along with a wry smile.
‘I just ask him what it’s like to play in Europe, and what it’s like at Ulster,’ he added, stopping just short of offering a wink before providing further clarity.
”The reality is that guys have contracts, and we’re busy trying to build a team and we’re in a fortunate situation in that we have shareholders who are visionary and want to do well.
‘Of course we’d talk about someone who we think is coming out of contract at a certain time. Legally you are not allowed to start interacting when they’ve got contracts, so we’re not necessarily talking to him, but talking about him to our board members and CEO Edgar Rathbone and making sure long term we can create a really good, special team, like Liverpool and Man United, Barcelona and Juventus, but in Pretoria,’ he concluded with another trademark quip.
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