Vodacom Tri-Nations flanker Solly Tyibilika has been released from his contract with the Sharks and could be heading north to play for the Lions.
Tyibilika played for the Springboks this year despite having minimal game time for the Sharks in the Vodacom Super 14, being benched at times for the Wildebeest and not playing at all in the Absa Currie Cup.
With young loose-forwards such as Keegan Daniel, Ryan Kankowski, and Jacques Botes beginning to shine and a few old hands in AJ Venter and Warren Britz set to stay on for at least another year, Tyibilika’s chances of playing in 2007 were slim, and he wisely decided to move on.
“I really need some game time,” he told keo.co.za. “I really want to play, and I haven’t been able to do much of that this season. It’s time for a change, and although nothing has been confirmed yet, I think I would get more of an opportuinty at the Lions.”
The Sharks have also released Jaco Gouws, a loose forward who captained the Sharks earlier in the season, but has since struggled to move up the pecking order, and prop Danie Saayman who has left to further his career overseas.
Tyibilika was not worried about walking into a similar situation at the Lions. Springbok team-mate and loose forward Jacques Cronje has been signed for the team, who already boast a few impressive youngsters in the back row department, such as Cobus Grobbelaar and Ernst Joubert.
“I want to get my career back on track,” he said. “Eugene Eloff is a very good coach and I think my experience as a Springbok player will benefit their side, which is quite young.
“They have played some exciting rugby this season, and I’m keen to be a part of that.”
Meanwhile the Sharks have signed Lions U21 scrumhalf Rory Kockott to add to their depth at halfback. At present they have Ruan Pienaar, Scott Mathie and Sandile Nxumalo, but are lacking a back up since it is unlikely former Springbok Craig Davidson will play again after a number of head injuries.
There is also talk of Brent Russell leaving for Cape Town to play flyhalf for Western Province, but for the moment he remains contracted to the Durban-based union.
By Jon Cardinelli