“We don’t believe he has a proper contract.”
Golden Lions President Kevin de Klerk believes that the tug-o’-war between the Lions and the Sharks over the services of Springbok prop Tendai Mtawarira is not over yet, and the player’s decision will ultimately decide his fate.
Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl has indicated that the Sharks are adamant that Mtawarira has a binding contract with them and the matter has now been put to rest. De Klerk, however, believes there could still be one final twist in this ongoing saga.
De Klerk revealed his admiration for Mtawarira as a player to rugby365.com and explained why he believed there was still a chance that the Beast could become a Lions player in 2011.
“We’re not done with our negotiations [yet] and, ultimately, it is going to depend on the Beast where he wants to play his rugby,” De Klerk told rugby365.com.
“I don’t believe that he has a proper contract, but we don’t need – or want – to have to go to court to contest that.”
De Klerk compared Mtawarira’s current contract with the Sharks to the dispute between the same two unions a year ago that saw loose forward Willem Alberts and fullback Louis Ludik trade Johannesburg for Durban.
“It is a similar type of arrangement to the one we had with Willem Alberts and Louis Ludik where the contracts were not complete, so there was an opening for us to negotiate with him and we did on that basis,” he explained.
“We believe that we have a wonderful opportunity for him [Mtawarira] up here at the Lions with the new team that we are developing.
“We would love to have him on board, but we will respect his decision about where he would like to play,” he added.
The Lions are in a rebuilding phase with a number of young players coming through the ranks, and the financial backing of IT multi-millionaire Robert Gumede is allowing the union to purse a few more well-established players to mentor young starlets like Elton Jantjies and Jaco Taute to name just two.
However, should the ambitious move to lure the Springbok loosehead prop to Johannesburg fail, De Klerk is confident that coach John Mitchell has enough talent at his disposal to work with.
“We are pretty well layered and have some up-and-coming youngsters that are making big statements at the moment, so we are pleased about the road ahead,” he told this website.
De Klerk expects finality on this saga to be obtained “over the next few days”.