The Sharks have reacted to Butch James’s criticism of their handling of a potential switch from Bath by saying they could not afford the transfer fee or his salary requirements.
James admitted to The Bath Chronicle that he hoped to return to the Sharks in a bid to strengthen his case for inclusion in the Springboks’ World Cup squad.
He called the Sharks’ handling of the affair ‘disgraceful’ and added that it made him look like an ‘idiot’.
The Sharks issued a statement expressing their surprise at the severity of James’s criticism and explaining their position on the transfer.
Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl said: ‘I am surprised by his negative comments because the discussions were ongoing and on a friendly basis.
‘However, the financial cost of a transfer fee and a salary for a two-year contract period were not affordable, even though we received assistance from one of our sponsors. It is also worth noting that when Butch left us in 2007 to join Bath we did not request a transfer fee and we were hoping that this would be a reciprocal arrangement for us.
‘We are sorry that the discussions were not fruitful as it would have been advantageous to have him back playing for the Sharks.’
The Sharks find themselves in a difficult position for the Currie Cup, given that they will part ways with the mediocre Andy Goode after the Super 14, while Ruan Pienaar’s reluctance to play pivot doesn’t aid their cause.
Guy Cronje is an option, but he is young and inexperienced, and the Sharks require a seasoned campaigner in the position if they hope to achieve domestic and Super Rugby success.