Many of us have been growing concerned – if not outright alarmed – at the lack of progress in the Sharks attempts to re-sign Francois Steyn.
To briefly catch up on the timeline of events here, various sources confirmed back in March that Steyn was “in talks” with the Sharks regarding a possible return at the end of the French season, a move that would see him available to play in their last two Super Rugby games this year. Mike Greenaway of the Mercury quoted Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl as saying that he had met with Steyn and his agent “recently”, adding that “we have had productive discussions, but nothing has been finalised because of the issue of a possible contract with SA Rugby that would need to be part of the process of him returning to SA. Hopefully everything will be sorted out, and if that is the case he would be able to play for us after the French season ends in June. The key thing is that all parties want Francois to return to SA.”
The expectation that the signing would be confirmed within weeks of that story, though, came to nought, but appeared to become more likely when, in April, it was confirmed that Steyn had turned down a lucrative contract extension from Racing Metro and would indeed return to South Africa. That was almost a month ago now, though and still no Sharks contract has been confirmed.
It was, then, a little surprising to read in the Witness late on Friday that the Sharks, according to another direct quote from van Zyl “couldn’t afford Steyn”, with the CEO appearing to go back on what he said earlier in adding that they hadn’t heard from Steyn at all since last year and “didn’t know what his plans were”. According to that piece, by John Bishop, none of the South African Super Rugby franchises were able to meet Steyn’s wage demands and the onus would thus fall on the national body to top up his earnings with a Bok contract; this, apparently, was to be discussed and hopefully finalised at a meeting to be held on Thursday this week.
Having spoken to a number of parties, though, my feeling is that van Zyl is again playing games here. Sources close to both the Sharks and the Boks remain convinced that Steyn is returning to Durban, with one even suggesting that a deal has already been done with SARU to make this happen. We’ll let the Sharks play their usual cloak and dagger media game, since it seems to make them happy to do so, but if any fans are now worried that the Steyn signing isn’t going to happen at all, I would advise against undue concern.
More on this, as ever, once we have something concrete.Tweet