THE Sharks have pulled off a stunning coup to take Juan Martin Hernandez to South Africa after failing in their bold bid to sign Lee Byrne, writes Andy Howell for Western Mail 17 July 2009
The Durban-based franchise switched their attention from Byrne to the Argentine great after the Wales and British Lions ace said: “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Full-back Byrne had been top of Sharks’ boss John Plumtree’s shopping list but rejected lucrative overtures to switch to the Currie Cup and Super 14 competitions.
The Six Nations Grand Slam winner remained loyal to the Ospreys, saying: “It’s my home region.
“It’s flattering to receive this kind of attention and to be linked to other clubs, but I’m an Ospreys man through and through.”
Former Swansea coach Plumtree was desperate to make a big-name signing and swooped for Stade Francais full-back or outside-half Hernandez when Byrne made his unavailability clear.
Hernandez, 27, starred during the 2007 World Cup in France as he guided Argentina to a shock third-place finish.
Negotiations between the Sharks and Hernandez have been successfully completed and they are awaiting a work permit so the big-money deal can be tied up.
“Hernandez will be a great asset when we are able to get him. I hope he can join us as quickly as possible,” said Plumtree.
Sharks backs guru Grant Bashford, said: “Hernandez pretty much dominated the 2007 World Cup for Argentina.
“He’s a great player and not only covers the No 10 position but 12 and 15 as well. He has an excellent kicking game and he could really have a massive impact in our squad.”
Their No 1 target Byrne was approached during this summer’s Lions tour of South Africa about a move from the Ospreys.
It is understood the Sharks and their South African rivals Stormers were among the teams who had been eyeing Byrne.Tweet