Mohicans seek sevens scalps

Former Lions prop Gert van der Merwe on why he bought a Sevens Premier League team, what it cost, and the players they’ve signed.

Tells us a bit about yourself.
Rugby has always been in my blood so I pursued a career in the game [he played Currie Cup and Super Rugby for the Lions, as well as for the Valke and Blue Bulls Merit A side] before finishing my studies at Tuks and becoming an advocate. I also started PlayerLink, with Rod Labuschagne [who played professional rugby in South Africa, New Zealand, France, Italy and England], which we aim to make the best sports management company in the country.

Why did PlayerLink buy a Sevens Premier League team?
Sevens rugby is going to become huge in the run-up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. When I heard about the Sevens Premier League that will be held in George this December I just knew PlayerLink had to get involved in some way, and what better way than to put together a fantastic team under our name.

What is the name of your team?
We thought it important to choose a nice, catchy, IPL-type name that spectators could relate to. So we decided to call our team the Mohicans.

How much did you pay for the team?
The franchise licence was R50 000 and it will cost us about R300 000 to participate in the tournament.

Who will coach your team?
We have secured the services of Dawie Snyman Jnr, who is an expert in sevens. Charl Malherbe and Jason Sivil will be assisting him. [Springbok loose forward] Jacques Potgieter will manage our team and be co-ambassador with [WP centre] JP du Plessis [right].

Which players did you sign?
Since all the big unions were reluctant to release any big name Super Rugby and Springbok players we opted to go for young up-and-coming talent with a blend of experience to secure a good mix. Our squad consists of Julian Erasmus, Justin Peach, Richard Prinsloo, Christopher Juries, Mark Winter, Josh Badsingthwaighte, Tiger Bax, Jeandre Blom, NW Smit, Juan Smit, Andre Smit, Stefan de Villiers, Chris Cloete and Izak Saaiman.

What sponsors do you have?
We are sponsored by Cable Mack and Cable City who are two of the biggest cable suppliers’ in Gauteng. XCO has come onboard as our clothing sponsor and BSN medical has sponsored all our strapping.

As owners, how involved will you be with the team during the tournament?
We will mostly be in the background helping with logistics and observing the coaching staff. It’s important to let the guys go out and have fun while showing off their talent while promoting PlayerLink and the game.