Mapoe tug-of-war continues

The Cheetahs are adamant that Lionel Mapoe will play his Currie Cup rugby in Bloemfontein this season.

Keo.co.za reported last Thursday that wing Mapoe is training in Durban with the Sharks after signing a new deal, despite already being committed to the Cheetahs until October 2011 under his current contract.

However, Cheetahs president Harold Verster is confident that Mapoe will have to return to Bloemfontein when their Currie Cup preparations commence.

‘I don’t care if Lionel signed a new deal with the Sharks, Stormers or Munster, he is a Cheetahs player and he will play for us this season,’ Verster told this site.

‘Lionel has a contract with the Cheetahs and he has to commit to it. The ball is in his and the Sharks’ hands now. They have to prove that Lionel doesn’t have a contract with us. We have checked his contract with our senior council and it is confirmed that it is legit. If he does not return, we will take legal action.’

It is understood that Mapoe wants to leave because of poor player management. It was reported that Mapoe was still signed under a junior contract during the Super 14, which meant he earned R200 000 a year.

However, Verster confirmed that the speedster has signed contract improvements, saying: ‘there have been huge changes to the amounts he earns.’.

There were also reports that Sarpa (South African Rugby Players Association) will determine an outcome on this issue, but Verster said this is only between the Cheetahs and Sharks.

‘Sarpa will not get involved. There is no third party in this. We are confident that Mapoe’s Cheetahs contract is legit. If he wants to play for the Sharks, they will have to prove otherwise.’

Meanwhile, Springbok prop Wian du Preez has agreed a two-year deal with Irish club Munster and will leave at the end of June.

Du Preez, who made his Test debut against Italy in November last year, said he wanted a new challenge.

‘I’ve been at Free State for seven years now and Munster offered me a great deal. I think Munster is a good club and I enjoyed my time there during my two-month stint there earlier this year [December and January],’ Du Preez also told this site.

Du Preez has been frustrated with limited opportunities for the Boks, but the loosehead prop said he understands the current situation.

‘There are so many quality props playing at the moment, so it was always going to be tough to get opportunities. But with so many good players, it’s great for South African rugby.’

By Gareth Duncan