Bok says Kings 'jumped the gun'
The Kings may have acted prematurely when they unveiled Bandise Maku as one of their big pre-season coups.
The Southern Kings may have acted prematurely when they unveiled Springbok hooker Bandise Maku as one of their big pre-season coups.
Maku, Argentinean scrumhalf Nicolas Vergallo and Blues utility back Hadleigh Parkes were this week unveiled as the latest batch of big-name signings.
However, both the one-time Bok, Maku, and the Golden Lions Rugby Union revealed that his 'return home' to the Eastern Cape is not a fait accompli.
"No final decision has yet been made on my future," Maku said on the social network Twitter.
"You guys will be amongst the first to know what I decide," he told his followers.
This has been backed up by GLRU CEO Ruben Moggee, who described the Kings' midweek announcement as "a very strange one".
"I spoke to his agent and I spoke to him directly, he said they are putting a lot of pressure on him," Moggee said, adding that the even though Maku is out of contract with the Lions and a free agent, the GLRU are still talking to him.
"We are trying to retain him," Moggee told this website in an exclusive interview.
"It is difficult to retain a player at that level ... he is an experienced and costly player.
"He wants to play Super Rugby, but he has also been out of rugby for a long time [with injuries].
"It is difficult to assess it, it wasn't that easy to just put him on loan to somebody - most of the other franchises are well stocked up with hookers.
"He [Maku] and [Bok midfielder] Waylon Murray are both out of contract. We are still negotiating and trying to get deals with them, but they can go anywhere they want to.
"Yes, he is a free agent, so the Kings can speak to him."
The Kings - who last week revealed that they have signed Sharks lock Steven Sykes, Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis and Cheetahs centre Andries Strauss - may also have to change their tune about the claims that Vergallo is on their books.
It has emerged that the Argentinian is contracted with French Top 14 outfit Toulouse until 2014 and that no "formal discussions" have taken place with his current employers.
Like Maku, there is interest from the player's side, but his signing is not a formality.
It will be interesting to see if Toulouse - given the bullheadedness of French clubs in general - will release the Puma player and at what cost will it come to the Kings.
* Meanwhile the Lions boss, Moggee, again dismissed the notion that there is a "mass exodus' of players in the wake of their axing from Super Rugby.
Speaking to this website in a broad-ranging interview, Moggee said he is upset - "visibly, emotionally and in every other way".
"The continued references to a mass exodus is unfounded ... it is creating unnecessary tension," he said, adding: "Obviously, being relegated from Super Rugby was always going to be a challenge, both from a financial and practical perspective.
"To keep your whole squad together is impossible.
"I am still confident that the players that will remain with us ... yes, we will bleed youngsters into it [our system] - which we believe ultimately will be [part of] the group that when the players that has been loaned out return after Super Rugby.
"We still have the likes of a Derick Minnie, Hendrik Roodt, Warren Whiteley, Jaco Kriel, Deon Helberg, Ross Cronje, Willie Britz."
The Lions boss said current captain JC Janse van Rensburg is still in discussion with the union about where he will play his rugby next year.
"[Bok prop] CJ [van der Linde] is the same [still talking].
"There is a mixture [of those who will stay and those who will be loaned out]."
Turning to his team's current Springboks - Elton Jantjies, Jaco Taute and Lionel Mapoe - Moggee said it is "impossible to keep them" and not lending them out for Super Rugby.
The fourth Bok, prop at Cilliers, this week signed with the Stormers for 2013. He will be joined by utility forward and close friend Michael Rhodes in Cape Town.
"We still believe that the players we will retain are going to be competitive and are players that we, potentially, down the line see in a year or two's time to be ready for Super Rugby."
He also revealed that the players that are on loan will be back for the promotion-relegation match at the end of the 2013 season.
"If, for argument's sake, we loan a player to the Stormers and we have to play them in a promotion-relegation match, we have first access to that player."
Asked how many more of those loan players have to be finalised, he said basically the Boks - Jantjies (who is being chased by the Stormers and Sharks), Mapoe (wanted by the Bulls) and Taute (wanted by the Sharks and Stormers).
There has been no formal request for hooker Callie Visagie, but he is also looking to play Super Rugby in 2013.
The Lions this week also unveiled a host of 'new' contracts for 2013, to go with players who are already on their books.
Players already on the Lions' books: JC Janse van Rensburg (in negotiations for 2013), CJ van Der Linde (in negotiations for 2013), Callie Visagie (in negotiations for 2013), Hendrik Roodt, Franco van der Merwe (on loan to the Sharks), Jaco Kriel, Stephan Greeff, Warren Whiteley, Michael Bondesio, Ross Cronje, Whestley Moolman, Elton Jantjies Elton (in negotiations for 2013), Gus Cronje, Jaco Taute (in negotiations for 2013), Alwyn Hollenbach, Lionel Mapoe (in negotiations for 2013), Dylan Des Fountain, Bradley Moolman, Deon van Rensburg, Andries Coetzee, James Kamana.
Players who have this week extended or signed their first contracts with the GLRU:
Malcolm Marx (2012 SA Schools) U/19 Hooker 2013 – 2014
Jano Venter (2012 SA Schools) U/19 Loose Forward 2013 – 2014
Akhona Sihunu (2012 SA Schools) U/19 Scrumhalf 2013 – 2014
Jaco van der Walt (2011 SA Schools) U/19 Scrumhalf 2013 – 2014
Mark Pretorius U/21 Hooker 2013
Gideon Muller U/21 Prop 2013
Ruan Venter U/21 Lock 2013 – 2014
Stephan de Witt U/21 Loose Forward 2013 – 2014
Ruan Lerm U/21 Loose Forward 2013 – 2014
Fabian Booysen U/21 Loose Forward 2013
Francois du Toit Senior Hooker 2013 – 2014
Ruan Dreyer Senior Prop 2013 – 2014
Derick Minnie Senior Loose Forward 2013 – 2014
Willie Britz Senior Loose Forward 2013 – 2014
Warwick Tecklenberg Senior Loose Forward 2013 – 2014
Marais Schmidt Senior Fly Half 2013 – 2014
Robert du Bruyn Senior Centre 2013
Anthony Volmink Senior Wing 2013 – 2014
JR Esterhuizen Senior Wing 2013
Deon Helberg Senior Wing 2013
By Jan de Koning
* Keep an eye out for the rest of our exclusive interview with Ruben Moggee, when we talk about their relationship with the Kings, what games (outside of the regular SARU tournaments) they have planned for 2013 and also the latest on the John Mitchell and Carlos Spencer saga.