Dweba: He would have been Cheetahs' second highest paid player
REACTION: The Cheetahs moved quickly to pour cold water on suggestions that they made little or no effort to keep talented players in Bloemfontein.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie, in a one-on-one with @rugby365com, revealed that the latest offer on the table to the French-bound hooker Joseph Dweba would have made the burly No.2 the second-highest paid player in Bloemfontein.
In a broad-ranging interview with RugbyPass reporter Jamie Lyall Dweba opened up about the tough times he endured, through his childhood, including the rough deals he got from previous coaches – former South African Under-20 coach Dawie Theron and former Cheetahs coach Rory Duncan.
The 24-year-old also spoke about the penurious offer he received, which was pulled off the table and later reinstated – after a trip to Cheetahs CEO Harold Verster.
However, those bleak days were in years gone by.
In recent years his profile skyrocketed and under the tutelage of Franco Smith the livewire hooker, Dweba, was named Currie Cup Player of the Year in 2019 – as he helped them to their sixth title (one shared).
That is why current Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie put the best possible offer on the table when the French scouts came knocking earlier this year.
The coach, Fourie, told @rugby365com that they went out of their way to keep the bulk of their high-profile players in Bloemfontein.
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That is why he reduced his squad from 45 players to just 35 – using the additional lucre in an attempt to keep players like Dweba, Sintu Manjezi and Junior Pokomela in the Free State capital.
“We were happy to sacrifice elsewhere [depth] to keep our best players in Bloemfontein,” Fourie told Jan de Koning in reaction to the suggestion they were tightfisted.
“He [Dweba] received a massive offer [from France] and we lost his services. I have no problem with Joseph going to France. We just couldn’t compete with that [offer].”
They managed to retain the services of Pokomela and are currently in a tug-of-war with the Bulls for the services of Manjezi.
“The discussions are ongoing, but there is an offer from the Bulls on the table,” Fourie said.
The coach revealed that he has already had a ‘clear-the-air’ discussion with Dweba in the wake of the RugbyPass article, which created the impression that the Cheetahs were miserly with their contracts.
“He would have been the second-highest paid player in Bloemfontein [had he accepted the offer”],” Fourie said of Dweba, adding: “He understands that we tried our best.”
Fourie also revealed that despite the perception of animosity that was created, the hooker is on good terms with his former employers.
In fact he will continue to train with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein until such time as he is allowed to board a flight to France.
There are currently no international flights, as a result of the COVID-19-enforced lockdown and the hooker is biding his time in Bloemfontein.
Fourie added that he has finalised 30 or the 35 places in his squad and the final five spot will be filled once they have a better idea of what the rugby landscape will look like post the COVID-19- lockdown.