No clarity yet on Catrakilis
Demetri Catrakilis will almost certainly be playing Absa Currie Cup Premier Division rugby during the forthcoming domestic season, but there is still no clarity on which team he will be playing for.
The man who played a pivotal role in helping Western Province break a long drought in the competition with a match-winning display in the final against the Sharks in Durban impressed for the Southern Kings during the recently completed Super Rugby league season.
And he is expected to be at the forefront of the Kings’ challenge in the promotion-relegation series against the MTN Lions which starts in Port Elizabeth on Friday night.
But after that Catrakilis’s future will depend on whether the Kings retain their Super Rugby status. If they do, he will play his rugby elsewhere during the Currie Cup season and then return to Port Elizabeth in November to prepare for next year’s Super Rugby. If they don’t, he could move permanently back to Cape Town – or to Durban or Pretoria.
“Demetri’s agent has put out feelers to three unions, not just to us,” confirmed WP coach Allister Coetzee.
“He is also talking to the Sharks and to the Bulls. I understand he wants to play Premier Division rugby (the EP Kings are only in the First Division) and we will look at his situation once the promotion-relegation series has been completed and we know where he stands.”
Coetzee did not give a direct answer when asked if WP would still be interested in Catrakilis if he was going to be returning to the Kings in November.
Employing Catrakilis on a temporary basis would make no sense in that it wouldn’t fit into the Province intention of using the domestic competition as a stepping stone for next year’s Super Rugby.
And with Gary van Aswegen having impressed Coetzee no end in the final Super Rugby match against the Vodacom Bulls, which the DHL Stormers won 30-13, it would make even less sense to play Catrakilis in the No 10 if he is not going to be wearing that jersey for the Stormers next February.
It was understood that playing first choice was one of the pre-requisites that Catrakilis’s agent made for the player to stay in the Cape when he was negotiating with WP last year.
“I will never make any promise like that. Gary van Aswegen was brilliant in the game against the Bulls and we are backing him. I’ve been through the video of that game a few times now and it is unbelievable how Gary went. He never made a single mistake, which is unheard of for a flyhalf. We also have Kurt Coleman, and Tim Swiel, the under-21 flyhalf, is also a promising player.”
There is also still a chance that the Stormers will hold onto Elton Jantjies next year. Jantjies played for them on loan from the Lions this season and has now returned to Johannesburg to be part of that franchise’s promotion-relegation challenge.
He will also play for the Lions in the Currie Cup. But Coetzee said that the possibility of Jantjies playing for the Stormers again had not been ruled out.
“We are negotiating and it all depends on what demands are made and what is discussed. All I can confirm at the moment is that Jaco Taute will be staying with us and will be playing for the Stormers next year.”
The Springbok fullback, also on loan to the Stormers from the Lions, suffered a serious knee injury in the away match against the Cheetahs in the first half of the Super Rugby season and will not play this year. However, Coetzee is hoping he will play a big part in next year’s challenge.
But when it comes to flyhalves, Coetzee also hasn’t forgotten about Peter Grant. The stalwart first choice for several seasons, Grant didn’t play this year because of injury, and he was sorely missed as his style of play fits into the Stormers’ pattern better than Jantjies does.
“Peter has a few options he is looking at but he has indicated he would like to stay with us for a few more years if possible and that is what we are working towards,” said Coetzee.
Meanwhile, Coetzee has confirmed that flank/hooker Deon Fourie will captain WP in the Currie Cup. He was at the helm of the Streeptruie when they won last year’s Currie Cup and is considered an inspirational leader, and with Jean de Villiers set to be leading the Springboks, the appointment was both a logical and anticipated one.
The immediate future of Schalk Burger, who is hoping to be back in the game before the end of the year, will become clearer after he has visited a specialist on Wednesday.