The race to acquire the services of talented SWD number 8 Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht seems to be hotting up, with the Blue Bulls and the Sharks both keen on the player. Engelbrecht – who was probably the form player in the Currie Cup first division – is currently weighing up his options after a stint with the SA Sevens team.
The 1.93m and 110kg forward, who is rated primarily for ball-carrying skills in the vein of a Willem Alberts or a Jean Deysel, has not yet signed the contract that SWD have put in front of him, according to an informed source. As has been reported in a number of places recently, all is far from well with the Eagles and their looming bankruptcy looks likely to lead to a mass exodus of talent, despite a superb campaign on the field in 2010.
There were rumours late last year that the Sharks were interested in Engelbrecht – we spoke to him at the time and he confirmed that although there had been some high-level talks, nothing had yet been put on the table. Our understanding is that, while the Sharks are still keen to have a look at the player, the Bulls have emerged as a far stronger contender for his services. Our information is that the Sharks are keen to bring him to Durban on a trial basis – maybe even as soon as this week. The Bulls want to go a step further; they believe they’ve seen enough and are ready to offer him a contract without needing a trial period.
Once can understand the interest. The Bulls, one feels, are crying out for a big ball-carrier in their loose forwards, with few options outside the ageing Danie Rossouw able to play that sort of “wrecking-ball” game. While they are blessed with an abundance of smaller, more skilful loose forwards, in the mould of Dewald Potgeiter, they need a bit of back-row bulk to complement that finesse. For the Sharks, the need is no less pressing. With the physical game that Alberts and Deysel play – as well as the clear reliance on players such as these when it comes to implementing the side’s game plan – injury is inevitable. With Deysel already out for the opening stages of Super Rugby, John Plumtree badly needs to add another loose forward option to his squad and having let youngsters like Justin Downey and Mike Rhodes leave Durban, a player like Jacques Engelbrecht would fit the mould quite well.
The Sharks need to act fast, though, since the Bulls appear to be ahead of them at this stage.Tweet