Sale Sharks or the Natal Sharks? This is the choice that stalwart Jacques Botes had to make, but in the end he has signed a new two-year deal with the Durban franchise.
The hard-working flanker said he had been in talks with the English Premiership club but last week committed himself to another couple of years in the black and white strip of the Durban side.
Botes has accumulated nearly 150 combined caps for the coastal franchise after making his debut in 2005 and holds the Sharks record for playing the most consecutive Super Rugby games – 71.
Often underrated, the 29-year-old is an integral member of the team, with his leadership and experience complemented by his tireless work-rate and exemplary defence.
Botes has been in impressive form in 2010, earning two consecutive man-of-the-match awards mid-season and scoring three tries in the Super 14, equal highest for the Sharks this season.
Botes said he was “excited and extremely pleased” to have signed the new deal and it certainly is good news for the Sharks as well that he has taken this decision.
Similarly, discussions are sure to be ongoing with a number of players who will be out of contract at the end of 2010 but Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl said that by and large most deals or decisions would only be divulged in October or November.
However, it will be interesting to see whether there are a few new recruits joining the Sharks ahead of the Currie Cup in order to bolster the squad in key areas.
Notably, the Sharks’ backline resources have been a little thin in 2010 but the Currie Cup is sure to provide an opportunity for some up-and-coming local players to once again make their mark.
The likes of Vodacom Cup participants, scrumhalf Charl McLeod, centre Jean Stemmet, fullback Mark Richards and Cronje brothers, Ross and Guy, are likely to come into the mix.
Sharks Academy managing director Hans Scriba said there certainly were a number of youngsters coming through the ranks.
“There will be some very good backline players coming through from the Sharks Academy in the Currie Cup, hopefully in 2010 already, and also in the next two years into the Super 14.
Many of them played Vodacom Cup and are still under 21 in 2010.
“There are six academy players currently in the SA under-20 squad and we have some very good under-19 backline players in the academy, so good players are coming through.
“The next Pat Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo, Frans Steyn or JP Pietersen might not be that far off!”
This article was written by Craig Lewis courtesy of The Daily NewsTweet