Cape Town – Chris Jack, the All Blacks lock who has been a key factor in Western Province’s surge to the top of the Absa Currie Cup table, will not be able to aid the cause right through to a possible final.
That was confirmed by WP Rugby managing director Rob Wagner in response to an email query from Sport24 on Tuesday.
Coach Allister Coetzee was quoted earlier in the week as saying it “looked positive” that the veteran second-rower would stay on for a few more weeks in the Currie Cup.
But if that sparked hopes among trophy-starved Province fans that he might see service all the way to a likely semi-final on October 17 and then possible final a fortnight later, then Wagner’s reply to this organ has dashed them.
“We are (busy) finalising Chris’s last match for the Currie Cup,” he said.
“However, he will definitely not be available for the entire Currie Cup season – this was the negotiation from the outset, particularly as Andries Bekker would have returned (from Springbok duty) by the time of his departure. Unfortunately Andries is now injured.”
Bekker damaged a shoulder after coming off the bench for the Boks in their Subiaco Oval triumph over Australia last Saturday, and early estimates are that he will be sidelined for around four weeks.
Compounding problems in an area where WP had suddenly looked unusually blessed a few weeks back – Anton van Zyl has proved a similarly inspired recruit from the Lions and forged a strong alliance with Jack – Adriaan Fondse has been ruled out by injury for the remainder of the Currie Cup campaign.
Jack flew in to Cape Town from London at the start of the 2009 competition after a spell with Saracens, and has been re-contracted to the New Zealand Rugby Union for the next two years, up to the 2011 World Cup on Kiwi soil.
“Chris has made a huge impression with Western Province,” Wagner said in tribute. “His vast Test experience has been invaluable and he has been great in both his mentoring and playing capacities.
“His fellow locks have learnt a great deal from him since his arrival at the beginning of July.
“In fact, all the New Zealanders we have contracted over the years – namely (flank) Duane Monkley, (flyhalf) Tony Brown and Chris Jack – have been inspirational and left their marks in WP rugby.”
For the moment, WP fans can take comfort in the fact that the Jack-Van Zyl firm is likely to do second-row duty this Saturday at Newlands against a dangerous Blue Bulls team, presumably smarting from their upset derby loss to the Lions at Coca-Cola Park.
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer writing fir www.sport24.comTweet