Mapoe’s a Cheetah … for now

Lionel Mapoe will not be allowed to leave the Cheetahs until October 2011.

It was reported in the media on Thursday that there was a contractual dispute between the star wing and the Free State Rugby Union, which linked him with a lucrative move to the Bulls.

The 21-year-old is currently signed on a junior contract, which sees him earn in the range of R200 000 a year. But president Harold Verster said the Cheetahs have offered Mapoe a better deal.

‘This whole story has been blown up by the media,’ Verster told keo.co.za. ‘Last year, Lionel was still playing in the U21 Free State side, which is why he was signed on a junior contract. He then had a great run of form from the latter part of the Currie Cup, we promoted him to the senior team and next thing people are calling him the next Bryan Habana.

‘Now his agent Mike de Haast is trying to find loopholes in his contract so he can leave the Cheetahs for another team like the Bulls. But I can ensure you this won’t happen any time soon.

‘I have spoken to Bulls president Boet Fick, CEO Barend van Graan and high performance manager Ian Schwartz personally and they gave me their word that they will not touch Lionel if he’s committed to us. Lionel’s contract is also legitimate, so there’s no way of him leaving us before October next year.

‘We are currently having negotiations with Mapoe and his representatives. They want more money and we have offered him a much better deal, considering he has been a top performer and we want to keep him longer than 2011. We hope to sort this out with him by Wednesday.’

Mapoe confirmed that he is happy in Bloemfontein but contradicted himself as he didn’t rule out a move to the Bulls.

‘I am happy here with the Cheetahs and I want to play for them,’ Mapoe told this site. ‘But I can’t comment on a move to the Bulls now. Maybe I will talk after the negotiations next week.’

Mapoe also refused to comment on staying at the Cheetahs after October 2011.

Meanwhile, scrumhalf Tewis de Bruyn has been linked with a move to Worcester Warriors after the Super 14.

‘Tewis’s contract with us ends in May, then he will be a free agent,’ said Verster. ‘ We have offered him a contract extension, but we have received no word from him whether he wants to stay in Bloemfontein.

‘We do have some talented young scrumhalves coming through the system if he does leave.’

By Gareth Duncan