Sharksworld was lucky enough to catch up with former Free State winger Jan-Harm van Wyk for a quick chat on the Lionel Mapoe saga. Van Wyk is currently Mapoe’s agent.
The news that judge Corne van Zyl has found in favour of the Cheetahs Union is a blow to Mapoe and the Sharks, for sure. Perhaps even more galling is all the typical nonsense being trotted out by Harold Verster about how the player will be welcomed back to the Cheetahs side “like a lost son”, but I guess that’s to be expected. What is important, according to van Wyk, is the fact that the judge, despite revealing his verdict, has yet to reveal the reasoning behind that call. This information should be made available after 2pm today and the Sharks and Mapoe will want to scrutinise it carefully to decide if there’s any basis on which to launch an appeal.
“Whatever the case, the player has been done in”, reckons van Wyk, “and he is the only loser in this case. I just hope that we can use this situation as a warning to young players not to go into these contract negotiations – and sign contracts – without having somebody with them who knows what’s what”. Van Wyk reveals that, as we had suspected, he was not Mapoe’s representative at the time that the contract was signed. “They got him in there as an 18 or 19-year-old and made him sign this junior contract for 3 years. I only took him onto my books a few months after that and we determined that he hadn’t been made aware of all the facts before signing it”.
Some of the speculation surrounding the figures can be revealed. Mapoe’s junior contract was worth around R5k a month to him. The player and his agent sat down with the Cheetahs last year to try and negotiate a meaningful increase, which the Cheetahs refused. Only since the player left to take up the Sharks’ offer did Free State unilaterally decide to increase his remuneration – they decided to double his salary and simple started paying the new amount into his bank account. Van Wyk is quick to point out that “at no point did Lionel accept a revised wage offer from the Cheetahs. They did that all on their own”. He also confirmed that Robert Ebersohn, a player with similar credentials to Mapoe, is currently earning R740k a year at the Cheetahs.
“The Sharks were the only union that were actually prepared to consider the player’s welfare in all of this – to ensure that he could get a fair deal and earn what he was worth. Nobody else would take this on and fight it on Lionel’s behalf.” Van Wyk maintains that the Sharks have tried to find ways to resolve the dispute, offering the Cheetahs a very generous settlement of around 7 times the player’s current salary, but the Cheetahs have refused to budge and are now simply acting out of spite. “I just want to get Lionel back onto the field now. Surely they must at least let him go to the Commonwealth Games with the sevens squad while we try and sort this all out?”
So, I guess we’ll need to wait and see whether there are any realistic grounds on which to base an appeal. In the meantime, let this serve as a warning to any young player considering furthering his career in Bloemfontein… Don’t let Harold and Naka “do a Mapoe” on you!Tweet