Sharks take aim at Mapoe

The Sharks plan to take legal action against Lionel Mapoe for his defection to the Lions.

The Mapoe tug-of-war was initially a battle between the Cheetahs and Sharks, with the latter expected to win, but it emerged this week that Mapoe has signed with the Lions and will play for them in the 2011 Super Rugby competition.

Mapoe has defected to the Lions despite the Sharks paying for his injury rehabilitation as well as his accommodation in Durban. Sharks boss Brian van Zyl questioned Mapoe’s integrity and ethics, telling The Times that the Durban union plans to sue the player for damages.

‘We have spent months rehabilitating him here in Durban, paying him substantially more than he was being [paid] by Free State and ensuring that he would be fit and well by the time he was able to play for us when we finally had a clearance certificate,’ Van Zyl said.

‘Last week I heard rumours that Lionel was talking to another union. We sent him home to Queenstown at the weekend to see his partner and their baby, but it later emerged he’d met with Lions shareholders Robert Gumede and Ivor Ichikowitz at his flat in Durban.

‘We are going to sue Lionel for his wages, costs and damages. I don’t know who will pay, whether it will be the Lions, the shareholders or the player, but someone is going to have to pay up.

‘John [Plumtree - Sharks coach] is very upset after all the hard work we put in. Lionel has used us and there is a lot of animosity towards him.’

The Lions claim that Mapoe never had a contract with the Sharks. They secured his services by negotiating with the Cheetahs, and feel there are no grounds to take the matter to court.