Sharks: Lensing is ours

After much behind the scenes action during the day, the Sharks have finally officially confirmed that Kees Lensing will play for them in this years’ Currie Cup.

Lensing was the subject of much heated debate on Thursday, as London Irish indicated he had a verbal agreement with them. His agent Jason Smith had, according to London Irish Dircetor of Rugby, Brian Smith, signed papers on Lensing’s behalf and the director of Rugby had shaken hands on the deal with the Namibian.

The deal, both Smiths said had been a breach of agreement and had been done by the player in his sole capacity with Sharks Commercial Manager Rudolf Straeuli.

In a statement, the Sharks said that Lensing would start on June 1 and had signed a three-year deal. The full Sharks statement follows:

During a trip to the UK in November 2005 when CEO Brian van Zyl, Commercial Manager Rudolf Straeuli, and Coach Dick Muir touched base with the Sharks in the Springbok squad who were in Wales, the trio also visited clubs and had discussions with various players, which included prop Kees Lensing.

Following on from that trip, the Sharks are now pleased to announce the signing of loosehead prop Lensing from Leeds Tykes in the UK. Highly-rated as a strong scrummager and powerful carrier of the ball, Kees will fit perfectly into the Sharks power play – a combination of strength and exceptional ball skills to complement the exciting pattern of play Dick Muir has introduced this season.

He has a three year contract and will be available for the Sharks from this years domestic Absa Currie Cup season, with the contract starting June 1.

With 10 Super caps under his belt for The Bulls, Kees comes with a solid pedigree and is no stranger to local conditions and competition. He played Craven Week for NW Cape in 1995/6 and also represented the Griffons (47 caps) and Eastern Province (30 Caps). He represented Namibia at the Rugby World Cup in 2003, going on to record 10 Test match appearances, and moved to the Bulls where he played Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup rugby in 2004 before making his Super 12 debut in 2005.

His move to Leeds Tykes last year at the end of the domestic Currie Cup season was lamented as a big loss to the Bulls. He went on to play alongside South Africans Andre Snyman, Rayno Gerber and Roland de Marigny, but with Leeds being relegated at the end of the domestic season, he has exercised the opt-out release clause in his contract.

Having now signed for the Sharks, the big prop doesn’t view them as the old foe. “They are not really the enemy, because I was with EP for two years before I moved to the Bulls so I was here for Super 12 training camps,” he explains. “I’m really looking forward to it, and being back in South Africa. The conditions here are much better and I always wanted to play with John and BJ, so here I am!”

He explains that having represented Namibia internationally, he is not eligible to play for the Springboks. “This is the only opportunity I have to play with these guys, I cannot play for the Springboks, and I really wanted to take it,” he says.

“The performances of the Sharks this year made the decision so much easier for me,” he explains. “There have been some changes and I am looking forward to the move; hopefully, it will suit my rugby and the way I play.”