EP in talks with Marshall

Eastern Province are negotiating deals with Justin Marshall and Gordon Tietjens.

The Kiwi pair are set to join before this year’s Currie Cup as the union hopes to qualify for the premier division of the tournament and then gain entry into Super Rugby as the Kings.

The former All Blacks scrumhalf joined Saracens for the latter stages of the 2008/09 season, but his performances meant Sarries extended his stay at Watford. At 36, the former Crusader may be past his best, but EPRU president Cheeky Watson said they are looking for certain types of individuals to re-build the union.

Tietjen is renowned as New Zealand’s sevens coach, who currently lead the IRB World Series title race. Watson couldn’t say in what role Tietjens will be used.

‘I can’t confirm whether they’re coming, as we are still in talks with them,’ Watson told keo.co.za.

The Kings haven’t been able to contract many top players or a director of rugby as they still haven’t been approved by Saru’s board to officially create the franchise in order to gain entry into Super Rugby.

The signing of Marshall especially would be a major coup for the union.

‘That’s why we also went for a guy like De Wet Barry,’ said Watson. ‘He’s been invaluable to us and to the players around him. We want other experienced players and coaches who can add value and equip people around them with the relevant knowledge.’

‘Having someone like Justin would beneficial to the union as a player and also in a mentoring capacity,’ Barry told this website. ‘Experience is always good.’

Meanwhile, Watson was hoping for a March deadline on the Kings decision, but with the Saru presidential elections set for 26 March the matter has again been delayed.

‘We are still in strong discussions with Saru on the matter,’ said Watson. ‘I’m very positive as we seem to be getting somewhere in terms of a time-frame.’

Watson couldn’t confirm whether the Kings would gain entry into the Super 15 in 2011 or 2012.

‘It’s still debatable at this stage,’ said Watson. ‘The discussions are at an advanced stage, but it’s still a sensitive matter as all the Sanzar partners have to be consulted.’

By Grant Ball