Sale’s growing SA contingent causes a stir
Sale Sharks have this week announced perhaps the Premiership’s biggest signing ahead of next season with the recruitment of Bulls and Springboks lock Lodewyk de Jager on a three year contract.
The 26-year-old is currently out after shoulder surgery, but is an integral part of his club side and his country.
Since making his debut in 2014, the 6ft 9 forward has established himself as one of the best second-rows in the world.
Despite his size, he is remarkably mobile around the field, and will undoubtedly be a huge asset to Sale next season when he arrives after the World Cup. They had already been linked with the All Blacks’ Brodie Retallick, but de Jager is certainly a capable alternative.
One common theme amongst Sale’s signings ahead of next season that has been picked up by fans on Twitter is that the Manchester club are turning to South African players.
They already have Francois de Klerk, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Jono Ross (although he can play for England) at the club, and will see the arrival of Akker van der Merwe and possibly Robert, Dan and Jean-Luc du Preez as well next season.
De Jager will add to the growing South African influence at the AJ Bell Stadium next season, as fans are predicting Sale to become a force. Conversely, some South African fans and journalists also feel that this may be the beginning of a mass exodus.
This is what the fans are saying:
Springboks everywhere https://t.co/aJs6ExQdRR
— Joseph Greenway (@JGreenway8) April 24, 2019
LDJ is class. Is it just me or have Gloucester, Sale etc not received quite the same stick that Saracens used to when they signed a fair few SA imports? Without being facetious, would that would change if either started winning trophies?
— Andrew Binner (@AndrewBinner) April 24, 2019
Might just as well be called SA Sharks
— Brian Roos (@brian_roos) April 24, 2019
The exodus is on, this will be the start of many @BlueBullsRugby stalwarts to leave and us as supporters can prepare our farewells in advance.
— TheYellowCap (@theyellowcap) April 24, 2019
Sale going to have a shit load of Saffas at the club next season – Akker vd Merwe, Lood de Jager, Faf de Klerk, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Robert du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Dan du Preez and Jono Ross🇿🇦
— Adrian Slabbert (@adrian_slabbert) April 24, 2019
Isn’t the ruling only two foreign players on the pitch at any time?
— Greg Crighton (@CaptainGrogg) April 24, 2019
Recruitment strategy at Sale is spot on!
— Werner Hefer (@OvalBrain) April 24, 2019
The Sharks look to be one of the main beneficiaries of the Springboks loosening their selection policy for overseas players. Initially, South Africa had the policy that only players with over 30 caps could play abroad, but the form of Sale’s de Klerk forced them to reassess that policy and eventually scrap it.
While this change in policy may lead to an exodus, where players leave for move lucrative contracts abroad, Sale fans will not be complaining, neither will the Premiership as a whole, as such a high calibre player will only improve the standard and spectacle.