Province reject Russell request

Vodacom Western Province have decided that Brent Russell will not play in the IRB Sevens tournament.

Russell, who was recently signed from the Sharks, was approached by Sevens coach Paul Treu to play in the first two legs of the tournament and had subsequently confirmed his availability while still contracted to the Sharks.

WP though have decided that the player will be better served preparing for the rigours of a Vodacom Super 14 campaign.

“I have discussed the matter with Brent and (CEO of WP Rugby) Rob Wagner,” WP and Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe told Beeld.

“We decided that Brent should rather have a good off-season during which he can work on his strength and conditioning. Therefore we won’t make him available for the Sevens team.”

Treu told keo.co.za that he envisioned Russell playing at flyhalf, where his elusive running and sharp decision making would bring an added attacking dimension to the side.

He then expressed his reservations about being able to mount a sustainable title challenge considering that key players like Jaco Pretorius, Gio Aplon and Ryan Kankowski are also unavailable for the tournament.

The Sevens squad assembled for their training camp in Cape Town yesterday where Treu lamented the loss of Russell.

“I know it’s difficult for Brent. He is with a new union and does not want to disappoint them. That’s how it goes in Sevens; always up and down.”