Free State Rugby Union administrators had something to smile about on Wednesday when two Springboks declined offers from other unions and signed two-year contracts with their present employers.
By signing the documents, World Cup star flanker Juan Smith and prop forward Wian du Preez provided the Cheetahs with probably the best news they had received all year.
Pieter Jordaan writes in Volksblad that it had been rumoured that Western Province and the Sharks were among the big unions who were willing to pay considerable amounts for the two.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské said several other players were expected to sign new contracts during the next few days.
Drotské was delighted with the news about Smith and Du Preez. Their decision should make a notable difference to the Cheetahs’ search for continued Currie Cup success and better Super 14 results next season.
“This is a big plus for Free State rugby,” Drotské said. “It gives the younger players confidence to know these two are staying.”
The offers from other unions were said to be considerable but Smith and Du Preez elected to remain in Bloemfontein.
Smith’s decision is also good news for Springbok rugby, especially with the British and Irish Lions coming to South Africa next year, because some overseas clubs would have paid handsomely to sign him on.
Tough negotiating ahead
Du Preez is highly rated and a candidate to play for the Springboks this year.
There may be some tough negotiating ahead, though, because other players have not yet made a final decision.
Lock forward Rory Duncan will probably decide during the next week. He has been given time to choose between going abroad or remaining in South Africa.
Some SA unions and overseas clubs still have Cheetahs players in their sights.
Richardt Strauss, Darron Nell, Barend Pieterse, Duanne Vermeulen and CJ van der Linde are among those whose names have been mentioned.
Springbok loose forward Kabamba Floors’s future has not been finalised and scrumhalf Falie Oelschig may also weigh his options after being booed by Cheetahs fans earlier this season.Tweet