Something that’s been buried as a one-line comment in most articles about the Sharks tour group changes probably needs to be surfaced a little here – while the decision to omit Griquas prop Janro van Niekerk from the tour group just a few hours before departure made sense from a rugby point of view, it was nevertheless a hugely unfair and harsh call to make.
I don’t know much about Janro, but I like to believe that he is a committed player and would have done his utmost to make the Sharks – and their supporters – proud on this tour. His comments earlier in the week suggested that he’d been waiting patiently for a shot at Super Rugby and was really enthusiastic about finally getting an opportunity to play in the competition, albeit relatively late in his career. To be so cruelly denied must be a blow indeed and if there’s any chance Janro is reading this, I’d like to extend apologies, on behalf of all Sharks fans, for the way this situation has panned out.
The unlucky injuries to both Jannie du Plessis and Wiehahn Herbst have deepened the Sharks front-row crisis to the extent that only a Eugene van Staden or John Smit-type-player could really help us out now; the fact is that with only one partially fit tighthead in the tour-group, the luxury of two specialist looseheads is simply not something that can be accommodated. It is my fervent wish, though, that once the tighthead crisis has abated, we find some way to include Janro in the side, if not as a replacement in the tour party.
A rugby team has to make rugby decisions based on rugby reasons; that, unfortunately, doesn’t give anybody carte blanche to treat people badly and while I completely understand the reasoning behind this particular decision, I can’t say I truly feel that the Sharks have done the “right thing” by Janro van Niekerk.Tweet