Sharks happy to hold on to Rugby World Cup stars

South Africa's scrum-half Faf de Klerk (L) and South Africa's centre Lukhanyo Am (C) congratulate South Africa's wing Makazole Mapimpi after he scored a try during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final match between England and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on November 2, 2019. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

South African rugby side The Sharks have expressed their joy at holding on to Springboks Rugby World Cup stars Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a major shakeup in world and South African rugby as many high-profile players have left their clubs for pastures green.

Sharks have been able to retain the services of Am and Mapimpi but lost Springbok centre Andre Esterhuizen who agreed a deal before the Super Rugby season kicked off.

Am had led the Sharks to the top of the Super Rugby table before the season was called off and was made the skipper at the start of the season.

Eduard Coetzee, Sharks CEO said he is delighted to have the pair in the team and never wanted to put pressure on them to stay at the club.

Coetzee was happy with coach Sean Everitt for the impact he has had on the team since his appointment.

“This has been quite an emotional and difficult time. What we said to the players is that one way or another they’d be doing nothing wrong” Coetzee said.

“It was not like they asked for it [the escape clause], but it was an option given to them, and then it was up to them as individuals on how to handle it.

“I think they have dealt with it really well, and it was done on a platform of respect. I think it speaks volumes for the culture we’ve established, and how [coach] Sean [Everitt] has been able to get the team really close.”

With Am and Mapimpi staying with the team, Sharks have reatained Curwin Bosch, Thomas du Toit, JJ van der Merscht, Ruben van Heerden and Aphelele Fassi.

“It shows the players’ confidence in what we’re doing,’ Coetzee went on to say.

“It’s backing up what we’re putting in place and shows that players can trust us. We’re pretty relieved, but also just very happy that no one else is heading out the door.

South Africa Rugby had initiated a 21-day contract exit window in April so players could make moves to other clubs thereby helping the financial part of the game as play has been suspended.


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