The London Irish Rugby Club are fuming over the apparent decision by prop Kees Lensing not to honour their agreement, which was made two weeks’ ago.
Lensing has, according to several reports, signed with the Sharks for R1,5-million a year. It makes him the highest paid rugby player in South Africa.
But London Irish are saying he is theirs. “This is desperately disappointing. Kees has gone back on his word. we are not happy with how he has handled this,” London Irish Director of Rugby Brian Smith told keo.co.za.
Smith said his club was trying to track down Lensing to get official word on the apparent Sharks deal, but he was proving elusive. According to reports Lensing brokered the deal behind his agent, Jason Smith’s back at the weekend and that too could prove a problem for him.
His agent is apparently considering legal action. London Irish will hold an urgent meeting today to discuss their position and the possibility of court action against Lensing and maybe the Sharks too, says Brian Smith.
“I understand Kees went to Durban at the weekend, but he is now back in England so we are busy trying to get hold of him. So far that has proved unsuccessful. I guess it says a lot about the character of the person we are dealing with,” Smith said.
According to Smith, he has signed documentation from Lensing’s agent Jason Smith committing him to London Irish. “I have signed papers from Jason and I personally shook hands on the deal with Kees about two weeks’ ago. To me a man’s word is his bond and we intend to hold him to that.”
“The deal he had with us would have made him one of the richest prop forwards in the Premiership and we have made plans going forward that include him.”
“But according to conversations like the one we are having and other reports he has already signed with Rudolf Straeuli at the Sharks. It’s very disappointing.”
“And I’ll tell you he nearly bit our hand off to secure the deal at London Irish he was so keen. At this stage we want Kees to confirm his position before we make any rash decisions.”
Straeuli, the Sharks Commercial Manager, whose main job is to procure players for the franchise, sidestepped the issue when contacted. “We will be releasing an official statement in the next 15 minutes,” he told keo.co.za.
By Andrew Hollely