After protracted and lengthy negotiations, The Sharks are pleased to announce that John Smit has signed a contract for 2008 and 2009. The parties involved in these negotiations included Bismarck du Plessis and John Plumtree, both of whom have the greatest respect for John Smit and it was necessary for open and frank discussion.
Mike Marnewick writes for the incomparable www.sharksrugby.co.za.
Sharks (Pty) Ltd CEO Brian van Zyl explained that, “It is therefore pleasing to be able to finalise this matter and we believe that is certainly good news for all rugby supporters in Kwa-Zulu Natal and South Africa.”
John Plumtree admitted that this was great news for the Sharks. “What can I say? He’s a fantastic player, an outstanding leader, he’s consistently been proven at top level and also amongst us, he’s a mate which is the most important thing. Getting him back is great for the region and province.”
Obviously the return of the former Sharks and currently Springbok hooker back to Durban has implications for Bismarck du Plessis who spent a few years under the wing of John and this year emerged to show that he is one of the best hookers around.
“We’ve worked through a process with Bismarck which has been ongoing for the past five to six weeks, I’ve basically promised him game time, he’ll get plenty. For his continued development, he’s potentially one of best hookers in world, and will be a great Bok, so it is important for him to continue to play for the Sharks.
“There will be a fair amount of rotation, both understand that and it will be good for both of them.”
Plumtree also admitted that there is no problem with the Springbok coaches that the Sharks have the top two hookers at the Sharks (again). “As long as both get their fair share of game time with the Sharks, it doesn’t affect their chances of game time with the Boks.
“It’s good for the squad, the team and us to have a guy like him here,” he added. “Having both he and Bissy here makes us really strong upfront. John is probably the best captain in the rugby world and Bismarck has some outstanding leadership qualities which will continue to grow playing alongside John.”
What this does mean for Craig Burden is the opportunity, like Bismarck for a few years, to learn at the foot of a player of the stature of the Springbok Captain. “Craig’s development at hooker is ongoing,” explained Plumtree. “Throwing him into a situation to play top class rugby moving from wing to hooker is not easy and he will need protracted periods of play, he needs a campaign to get his teeth in. In saying that, we need three hookers.”
John Smit will be available to the Sharks at the conclusion of the Vodacom Tri Nations, along with the rest of the Springboks, giving their Absa Currie Cup campaign a boost from the end of August.
Sharks Commercial Manager Rudolf Straeuli explained that the whole process involved a new coach, managing of players and rotation and the future of young players. “All those things came to mind, thus we had open discussions that included John Plumtree, John Smit, and Bismarck du Plessis, It’s about depth in the squad, but also his leadership qualities rubbing off on others, like Johann Muller. He didn’t want to go anywhere else, he’s happiest in Durban.”
Straeuli also confirmed that in Butch James’ case, “If he does want to come back, we’ll gladly assist in that process. But he has a contract with Bath Rugby and he needs to look into that. He doesn’t have an out clause, so if he did leave, they’d probably ask for a transfer fee.”Tweet