Sharks eye French stars

The Sharks are looking to bolster their squad for the Vodacom Super 14 by signing top French players.

The Durban-based franchise are said to be interested in signing flyhalf Freddie Michalak, utility back Thomas Castaignede, centre Damien Traille and loose-forward Sebastien Chabal.

It looks unlikely that Michalak will make the move though, as the mercurial pivot is sidelined for four months after tearing knee ligaments in a club match for Toulouse.

Traille is a certainty for Bernard Laporte’s Six Nations squad and thus will only be able to join the Sharks at the end of March. This is likely to deter any offer from the Sharks, as they would be keen to have such a high profile player available from the outset of the tournament on February 3.

IRB regulations allow only two foreign players to be selected, and in this regard Chabal and Castaignede seem to be the most likely to make the trip south.

The former is an uncompromising player who will provide valuable knowledge to the likes of young loose forwards Keegan Daniel and Ryan Kankowski and and metal to an impressive pack. The latter is a creative and versatile back, able to cover wing, flyhalf or centre.

At 29 and 31 years of age respectively, Chabal and Castaignede are both experienced players who would be solid acquisitions for a steadily improving franchise that narrowly missed the semi-finals last season.

The Sharks are also waiting for confirmation on whether New Zealander Tony Brown will be able to get a release from his Japanese club Sanyo Wild Knights, to join the squad before the conclusion of their [Wild Knights] season in late February.

Sharks commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli confirmed with the Daily News that the franchise were looking at bringing in a few “foreign” internationals.

“We are focusing on our local players first but, yes, a few foreign players have contacted us,” he said.

“We are more than happy with the squad Dick [Muir] has been building but we do have the option of bringing in a few foreign players like we did with Tony Brown last year.

“We have been speaking with Tony, but if he can’t get here by January before the start of the Super 14, then it will impact on the team’s preparations.”