The 'extra value' of Sharks' new recruits
It was sold as a ‘cooperation agreement’ between the Sharks and Cheetahs, but the real benefit is the value that the Sharks get out of the first two ‘exchange’ players.
The teams announced their agreement midweek and the media statement revealed that Cheetahs scrumhalves and captain Ruan Pienaar, along with utility back Tian Meyer will be joining the Sharks on short-term deals.
Meyer will be available for the Sharks four-match United Rugby Championship tour to Europe later this week and will then return to the Cheetahs.
With Springbok selection and injuries further depleting the Sharks, Pienaar will remain involved for a longer period.
His knowledge and experience of European conditions, given his seven-year stint with Irish province Ulster, will be hugely beneficial to the Sharks on tour.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt spoke about the ‘excitement’ of having two players of such high calibre coming in and bolstering the side.
“Both of them has an association with the Sharks,” he said of Pienaar (more than 100 games for the Durban outfit between 2004 and 2010) and Meyer (born in Pietermaritzburg and schooled at Westville Boys’ High).
“I was fortunate enough to coach Tian Meyer when he was a junior at the Sharks,” he said of the utility back that captained the Sharks Under-21 team.
“It is great to have those guys back.
“We have been hit with injuries at scrumhalf,” he said of the fractured leg suffered by rookie Springbok Jaden Hendrikse in a Test against Argentina last month.
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Cameron Wright was injured in the semifinal win over Griquas and is also set for a lengthy stay on the sidelines.
“To have those guys coming in and filling those gaps for us is really good,” Everitt said.
“They are experienced players who have featured in Pro14 rugby [in Europe] over the last few years.
“They will bring a lot of assistance to the young squad that we have.
“They are also both versatile players.
“Tian has played on the wing in a Currie Cup Final.
“Ruan Pienaar has played flyhalf and he has played quite a bit at No.10 lately.
“That adds extra value to their recruitment. We are very happy to have them on board and their association with the Sharks in the past will make them comfortable when they join our family.”