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Ken Borland

Sharks hopeful that all their outside programmes will clinch that Etzebeth deal

Posted on March 24, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks are hoping that all their excellent programmes to assist their players with life outside rugby will clinch the deal with Eben Etzebeth, leading to the Springbok powerhouse lock joining them after the end of Toulon’s season in June.

The Sharks, thanks to their equity partners, offer enormous networking and advisory possibilities with an array of leading businesspeople and that could be of interest to Etzebeth, who has been one of the best-paid players in France and is now in the second half of his career.

Eduard Coetzee, the CEO of the Sharks, confirmed on Tuesday that the franchise are putting together an offer for arguably the best lock in the world, who was earning about R20 million a year at Toulon.

“We are speaking to Eben, he wants to come back and we will put our best foot forward,” Coetzee told The Citizen. “It’s about what we can offer him on and off the field.

“Eben will be turning 31 in October and we can give him a start for life after rugby. We can match him up with businesspeople who can help him – in the pharmaceutical world, clothing, property etc.

“Hopefully that can make up for the loss of income he will have coming back to South Africa. And with the endorsements and commercial opportunities he can get here, hopefully he can earn something that is not a long ways off what he gets there in France. So we feel there is definitely a chance that we will get him,” Coetzee said.

The salary cap (R65m) that SA Rugby have imposed on their franchises as they try to compete with the big-spending European clubs is a frustration, and the Sharks also have to ensure they do not anger the existing superstars in their squad by paying the likes of Etzebeth considerably more than they are earning.

“Of a probable current World XV, we have Siya Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am, and now you add Eben Etzebeth,” Coetzee said. “And you can’t pay one of them twice as much as the others.

“You need a level of consistency in terms of what you are paying the top guys. Fortunately we have some credit still in the salary cap and Eben has got himself out of his contract with Toulon.”

The CEO also cleared up any impression that Neil Powell being parachuted in as director of rugby when he had initially been signed as defence coach would be cause for any anger by head coach Sean Everitt.

“John McFarland left for a long-term deal and Warren Whiteley stepped in as defence coach until Neil arrives in September, and he is doing really well. We felt the gap was in terms of managing the entire rugby programme.

“It has been a consultative process and Sean has a very difficult job managing two teams out of one squad. But Neil runs systems really well and he is very strong on culture and work ethic.

“So Neil will run everything outside of the day-to-day coaching. This will cause the least disruption and his strength is people-management, we need someone to run the whole system from juniors up the pipeline,” Coetzee said.

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