Lionel Mapoe has signed with the Sharks despite having a contract with the Cheetahs and he could be joined in Durban by injury-prone flyhalf André Pretorius.
Mapoe is in Durban with the Sharks and keo.co.za has it on good authority that he has signed a new contract until the end of the 2011 season.
However, Cheetahs president Harold Verster argues that Mapoe is committed to the Bloemfontein-based union until October 2011 according to his current contract.
‘I’ve been in touch with Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl and he told me that the Sharks were approached by an agent to sign Lionel,’ Verster told this website.
‘I told him they can’t sign him because he is committed to us and he told me the Sharks will still look into this issue. I have tried to get hold of him again, but he’s not answering my calls. The Sharks will probably try to find holes in Lionel’s contract, this is what they usually do.’
Verster added that they will take action if Mapoe does not return to the Cheetahs.
‘Our legal representatives have checked Lionel’s Cheetahs contract and we are sure it is legit. So if he does go on and play for the Sharks, we will take legal action. He is still a Cheetahs player and belongs in Bloemfontein.
‘This situation comes as a shock to all of us. I saw Lionel at our last game against the Lions in Welkom and he seemed happy. The guys are on leave now, that’s why it’s difficult to know about their whereabouts.’
This is not the first time Mapoe has had contractual issues with the Cheetahs. In March, Mapoe’s agent representatives tried to find loop holes in his contract to sign a new lucrative deal with the Bulls.
This arose after it was revealed that Mapoe was still signed under a junior contract three weeks into the Super 14, meaning the speedster only earned R200 000 a year whereas he could’ve earned R1.4 million with a new contract with the Bulls.
The deal fell through after the Cheetahs and Bulls agreed that Mapoe should commit to his current contract. Improved contract negotiations were supposed to be held between the Cheetahs and Mapoe, but it is understood that this never happened.
Meanwhile, Pretorius is set to play for the Sharks in the Currie Cup if he passes a medical examination next week. The 30-year-old was signed by the Force but tore a hamstring during the pre-season and was ruled out of the entire Super 14.
English flyhalf Andy Goode has opted to return to the UK despite being made a ‘generous’ offer by the Sharks.
By Gareth Duncan