Butch James says the Sharks administration is to blame for his decision to remain in England.
James has been playing for Bath since after the 2007 World Cup, but was reportedly keen on returning to South Africa in the near future. The Springbok flyhalf was eyeing a comeback at the Sharks and a place in Peter de Villiers’ 2011 World Cup squad, but those ambitions have been dashed.
‘I’m not too sure where it broke down, but it was pretty embarrassing for me,’ he told The Bath Chronicle. ‘I think the Sharks were pretty disgraceful in how they handled the whole thing. I can’t have any moans with Bath – they were open to an offer. But the Sharks were pretty embarrassing in how they handled it. It put me in a funny situation.
‘They had been chasing me since January and I eventually followed my heart and said “Let me give it one more go”.’
The Sharks are battling in the Super 14 and are short on quality when it comes to flyhalf. They were forced to bring in Andy Goode mid-season, a move that’s proven a failure.
Bringing James back would have boosted their Super Rugby prospects and helped the World Cup-winning flyhalf to reclaim his green and gold jersey. James said the KwaZulu-Natal union stuffed him around.
‘They made the initial chase and in the end it fell through, so it made me look like a bit of an idiot over here with my club and my teammates.
‘All of a sudden the Sharks closed the door. They almost said everything was in place and it was almost 90% that I was going to go home. Then they pulled the rug from under my feet. I’m not too happy about it.’
De Villiers is not likely to select players based outside of South Africa, apart from a few exceptions. The 31-year-old James still hopes to get the call.
‘I wanted to go home so I could give the Springboks another go, but I’ll just have to try to make it from Bath. I think it will be pretty difficult to make it from here. That’s how I understand it.
‘The coach [Peter De Villiers] wanted me to be playing back at home but there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m here and I’ll have to give it a go. I don’t think the door is ever closed. I’ll just play my best for Bath. That’s all I can do – the rest will be left in other people’s hands.’