Our previous information that Bok winger JP Pietersen’s hefty price tag might rule the Blue Bulls out of pursuing his signature seems to be a little wide of the mark and Sharksworld now understands that the Pretoria union is in the process of weighing in with a big offer for the talented 24-year-old.
Pietersen, whose Sharks contract expires at the end of the current season, is clearly hot property on the transfer market and has yet to commit to a new Sharks deal as he weighs up the options available. Dick Muir, who claims the credit for “discovering” Pietersen back in 2005, is keen to lure him up to Johannesburg to play for the Golden Lions, while Western Province are understood to also be keen to lure the Stellenbosch-born Pietersen back to what they consider his natural home.
A lot of unions in South Africa seem to find themselves somewhat surprisingly short of quality wing depth at the moment and if you just look at some of the names that are regularly featuring on Currie Cup team sheets – like that of Jaco van der Weshuyzen – it really isn’t surprising that Pietersen, along with another real talent in Griquas flyer Bjorn Basson, is on the top of everybody’s wish lists. Make no mistake – it’s the Bulls that really want and need Pietersen the most, having failed to find a quality flyer to replace the departing Bryan Habana and limping through the previous Super Rugby with Francois Hougaard out of position on the wing. Akona Ndungane looks unlikely to feature as a serious prospect again after all his injuries and while Gerhard van den Heever is coming along nicely, players such as John Mametsa, Sampie Mastriet and Clayton Blommetjies simply aren’t Springbok class.
Province don’t really need JP – they just want him because Rassie likes to collect Springboks and Johann Rupert seems more than happy to pay for them. The Lions, on the other hand, have some superb young talent coming through in the likes of Wandile Mjekevu, but would probably see Pietersen as the perfect third member in a back three that also contains Jaco Taute. The close relationship that Pietersen has with his former mentor could well be a major factor if he does decide to throw his lot in with the Lions.
What of the Sharks, then? To my mind, it’s simple. We are the guys in possession and have always treated JP incredibly well, playing him as first choice wing whenever fit, through form both good and average. He’s a class player and a key part of our long term plans and we simply have to make it worth his while to stay. I like to believe that in these sorts of negotiations, the incumbent team should always start off with a big head start, as long as the player is settled and has been well-treated and I have no reason to believe that any of that doesn’t apply here. With the Lionel Mapoe saga turning into a real mess and no other obvious challengers for JP coming through the system just yet (I’m assuming he and Mvovo will be the first-choice wingers next season), the Sharks really do need him as much as, if not more than, the Bulls, Lions or anyone else.
To my mind, it becomes a simple equation for the Sharks. Find enough money to give JP whatever he wants and add a little bit more on top. Then let’s go and win the Super 15. Easy peasy, really!Tweet