Hoff’s Japan move a spectacular own goal

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks, Springboks on 5 Aug 2012 at 21:12
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We’ve all seen it unfolding in front of us over the last few weeks and now Heyneke Meyer has as good as admitted the same thing in an interview with Rugby365’s Jan de Koning: had Ryan Kankowski not signed a deal to sit out the Currie Cup with Toyota in Japan, he would be starting for the Boks in the Rugby Championship.

Now I can fully understand why a player would rather play in Japan – for about 3 times their usual wage – than slog away in a watered-down Currie Cup year after year. Given the waning of Kankowski’s star at international level over the past few years, coupled with some awful luck with injury, it would have seemed to all but the most ardent fan that another spell in the Sharks Currie Cup side would be his lot for the latter part of 2012, before Heyneke Meyer plucked him, virtually from obscurity, to join the test squad to face England.

Now, to me, this one looks like one of those ridiculous breakdowns in communication that seem to so often beset South African rugby. Surely Meyer must have known some time ago that Kankowski was going to feature in his plans? How then could the player have ended up painting himself into such a corner with this Japanese deal? I can’t believe that Ryan would honestly rather play for Toyota in Japan than for the Boks, so surely the only reason for making the decision to sign with Toyota was that he honestly believed himself to be out of national contention.

Perhaps he wasn’t actually in the picture at all, though, at the time that he decided to pen the deal and his recent run of good form is just a case of bad timing? Those things also happen in sport, at the most ironic of times, but whatever the reason for it happening, it’s starting to look as though Kanko may just have blown his one big chance to really stamp his authority on the Bok number 8 jersey that so many have been waiting for him to claim for five years or more.

A big shame and one that could have been avoided, I feel, if all parties involved had just been talking to each other.


  • Any idea when the deal was agreed?

    It must have been after Heyneke first selected him for the England series.

    In fact HM surely met with Kanko during the training camps that took place early this season.

    Very strange indeed. 🙄

  • Comment 1, posted at 05.08.12 23:19:41 by wpw Reply
  • Kankowski’s deal with Toyota was announced on the 21st of June, but the talks with the Japanese club started in April already.

    I think it’s just a lame excuse by HM in case Spies plays awful again. Why didn’t he give Kankowski more minutes against England if he was really going to use him?

    It’s a bad, bad excuse. I cannot wait to hear his excuse for selecting Kirchner, Morne Steyn and Vermaak, of whom no one has proven to be playing properly at least.

  • Comment 2, posted at 05.08.12 23:24:50 by TRF_Ezequiel Reply

  • Any news from Kanko himself about this?

  • Comment 3, posted at 06.08.12 07:08:28 by Die Kriek Reply

  • Can’t blame Kanko for it. Much rather earn some serious money than to warm the bench watching Boggom Spies play mediocre rugby.

  • Comment 4, posted at 06.08.12 07:25:48 by stertjie Reply

  • I think it’s more a case of – ‘You don’t know what you’re missing until it’s gone.’ Maybe it was a good move by Kanko. Coaches always had him as a backup. He’s only going for 6 months and if Spies continues the way he has for quite a while now, maybe he’ll feature more regularly in the team from next year. Who knows?

    I which him all the best though. It must have been a tough decision in the first place, but like Rob mentions in his article, it’s been five years since he’s first come onto the scene with so much potential to become more… and he’s never been given a proper shot. I can’t think of one game that he’s started for the Boks, and if he has he didn’t start at 8.

  • Comment 5, posted at 06.08.12 07:49:01 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • i reckon its just HM excuse to play spies

  • Comment 6, posted at 06.08.12 08:07:28 by Dunx Reply

  • And perhaps a bloody agent in the picture here somewhere..?

  • Comment 7, posted at 06.08.12 08:38:17 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Great pity! Hopefully Kanko has a good time of it in Japan, comes back fresh for next year’s Superrugby and shows the rest of the country what we know, that he’s better than Spies.

  • Comment 8, posted at 06.08.12 08:41:07 by MikeSebMatt Reply

  • I miss PDivvy.

    To me, Meyer speaks with forked tongue.
    He had no problem wanting a Japan based player (Fourie du Preez) to captain the Boks against England. He has no problem with selecting Ruaan Pienaar, who is overseas based in his squad. Furthermore country takes precedent over club meaning Kanko could have seemlessly taken up a spot with the squad and playing in the 4 Nations without having set a foot in Japan.
    Sorry, Im not buying it.

  • Comment 9, posted at 06.08.12 08:46:29 by Salmonoid Reply
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    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • In Kanko’s absence, if Heyneke doesn’t give Duane Vermeulen, Keegan Daniel or Willem Alberts a shot at proving that they are superior options to Pierre Spies I’ll be severly disappointed. We all know Vemeulen and Alberts can tackle, and even with Keegan’s relatively diminutive stature, he put in some pretty effective hits against Eben Etzebeth in the Super 15 semi. In contrast to that, all we’ve seen this year from Pierre is his trademark “let me brush the dandruff from your shoulders while I wait for someone else to show up and make the hit” tackle technique.

  • Comment 10, posted at 06.08.12 08:53:25 by Culling Song Reply
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    Culling Song
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 9) : In fairness, maybe the players you mentioned’s contract make a provision for release for national duty, whereas Kanko’s might not, given the short term of his contract? Just a thought.

  • Comment 11, posted at 06.08.12 08:55:00 by Culling Song Reply
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    Culling Song
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 9) : precedent = precedence, seemlessly = seamlessly. Eish where am I today.

  • Comment 12, posted at 06.08.12 08:57:26 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Culling Song (Comment 11) : Well if his contract doesnt allow him to play for his country then its fair and it should be made known that there is such a clause, in which case I will unreservedly apologise for insinuating that HM speaks with a forked tongue.
    I was however under the impression that a club cannot hold a player back if he is selected to play for his country.

  • Comment 13, posted at 06.08.12 09:03:37 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 9) : Salmo, I think the issue here was the particular contract Kanko has signed. I’ve heard some info (which I genuinely believe) that makes me think that Meyer would definitely start Ryan if he were available.

    Think about it, if the Japanese club has only contracted him for 6 months, how could they accepts him being unavailable for 3 of those?

  • Comment 14, posted at 06.08.12 09:11:39 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 14) : Agree, it makes no sense, but then let the public know that the reason he is not in the Bok team is because of a clause in the contract that precludes his selection and not the contract itself that is the precluding reason. I have read about this on various sites, no one mentions such a clause.
    Can we maybe get some clarity on that.

  • Comment 15, posted at 06.08.12 09:29:53 by Salmonoid Reply
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    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • Just saw this on

    Although Kankowski has signed a six-month deal to play club rugby in Japan, the Sharks No 8 was a surprise omission from the squad as it was assumed that he would still be available. It turns out he may be, and Meyer told journalists at the squad announcement press conference in Worcester that he is working on having Kankowski available to play.

    “It’s a tricky situation for us. I did look at Ryan and I think he is probably playing the best rugby of his life,” said Meyer.

    “We spoke to Ryan, and it was just quite difficult for him to be selected right now. So he wasn’t selected for this test series (against Argentina), but we spoke this morning and we are still in contact, and hopefully he will be available going forward.”

  • Comment 16, posted at 06.08.12 09:41:48 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 16) : “We spoke to Ryan, and it was just quite difficult for him to be selected right now.”….quiete difficult is quiete different from impossible.

  • Comment 17, posted at 06.08.12 10:16:58 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 16) : I hope he does get selected ASAP. That would be awesome for him.

  • Comment 18, posted at 06.08.12 16:16:59 by Letgo Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 16) : well we can only hope 🙂

  • Comment 19, posted at 06.08.12 17:16:39 by Franshark Reply

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