Star Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi looks set to leave the Stormers for the Sharks.
The World Cup winner’s future at the Cape franchise has been uncertain for some time, and according to Rapport, he has opted to join former Stormers team-mate Siya Kolisi at the Sharks.
The Afrikaans Sunday newspaper cites two sources who claim that Mbonambi will head for Durban after his contract with WP Rugby expires in October.
It is believed that he will, like Kolisi, become a client of the international sports management company, Roc Nation, whose president Michael Yormack has strong ties with the Sharks.
Last week, Western Province Professional Rugby (WPPR) chairperson Ebrahim Rasool said they were eager to re-sign Mbonambi and his fellow Bok star Pieter-Steph du Toit.
“The coach has an open mandate to fight for every player of quality that has come through the ranks of Western Province and the Stormers to keep them here as much as possible,” Rasool told reporters in a virtual media briefing.
“We proved that with Siya. We made an unprecedented offer to him but there were other forces at work. We will do that with Bongi, Pieter-Steph and anyone who is even ambiguous about whether they want to be with us or not.”
Dobson added that they were keen to hold onto Du Toit and Mbonambi’s services but acknowledged it wouldn’t a be a train smash if they left.
“We are talking to them on an ongoing basis … we have got excellent Plan Bs but our first goal is to keep them here. We are 90% completed with our squad and if one or two do decide to leave we’ve got excellent replacements line up over the next year. For the first time in a long time, CVs are coming to us.
“While I was on the training field now, we received three CVs, two of which are international rugby players wanting to play for the Stormers. So, obviously we’re heading in the right direction in that respect,” Dobson said.
In Mbonambi’s absence, the Stormers will have Scarra Ntubeni, Chad Solomon, Andre-Hugo Venter and JJ Kotze as their frontline hookers.
Ntubeni is also a Springbok and Maties young gun Venter has showed great promise in the Varsity Cup. He is the son of former Springbok flank Andre Venter.
Re-arranged Rainbow Cup
Meanwhile, the re-arranged Rainbow Cup fixtures has the Sharks visiting the Stormers on Saturday, May 1.
The four teams in the competition will play each other twice until the middle of June, with one week being a break after the fourth round of fixtures.
Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, said: “It’s a pity we could not have the competition as we first envisaged it, but to see these four teams slug it out over seven weeks is sure to bring out the best in South African rugby. We are very grateful to SuperSport for being so accommodating in the late changes, and to our friends in Europe for allowing our teams to continue in the competition they’ve been preparing for.”
Rassie Erasmus, director of rugby, said it would have been good to see the South African teams take on the might of European club rugby as the Castle Lager Lions Series moves closer.
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“We’ll have to wait a bit longer to face the best club sides of Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales, but in the meantime we’ve got a tough competition that will hopefully prepare our players for what promises to be a massive series against the British & Irish Lions,” said Erasmus.
The normal Guinness Pro14 points’ system will be used — four points for a win, bonus points for scoring four tries or more, or for losing within a margin of seven points or fewer, and two points to each team for a drawn match.
Rounds four to six will see a reverse of the first rounds of fixtures between 22 May and 12 June, with a bye for all four teams, details of the kick-off times which will be confirmed in due course.
Saturday, May 1
Stormers v Sharks — 2 pm
Bulls v Lions — 7 pm
Saturday, May 8
Sharks v Lions — 4 pm
Stormers v Bulls — 6.15 pm
Saturday, May 15
Lions v Stormers — TBC
Bulls v Sharks — 6.15 pm
Weekend of May 21/22
Sharks v Stormers
Lions v Bulls
Weekend of June 4/5
Lions v Sharks
Bulls v Stormers
Weekend of June 11/12
Stormers v Lions
Sharks v Bulls