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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Ebersohn blames Drotske for departure



With a tinge of bitterness in his voice, Cheetahs flyhalf Sias Ebersohn said he was “heartbroken” at having to leave Bloemfontein but simply had no choice.

Ebersohn signed for the Western Force for two years as their “overseas developing player” from 2013, after he had a disappointing season with the side based in Bloemfontein, where he was born and raised.

The 23-year old will see out the Absa Currie Cup season, before heading to Perth to try his hand as the Force's first-choice flyhalf for the season.

After missing a crucial kick against the Highlanders in Bloemfontein, Ebersohn lost confidence and was almost immediately dropped after the team’s loss against the Stormers a fortnight later.

This played a major part in his decision to move, as he felt he was not being supported by team management and in particular coach Naka Drotske.

Speaking to Bloemfontein radio station OFM, Ebersohn said he decided on the move as Bloemfontein was “no longer the solution to moving forward in my career.”

“I’m sad, because I’ve spent all 23 years in Bloemfontein and I had to make a decision after it became apparent Bloemfontein was not the solution,” Ebersohn told OFM.

“I waited a long time for my chance at the Cheetahs and then suddenly (Johan) Goosen was on the scene and when he got injured, I was suddenly replaced by Riaan Smit. In my three years at the franchise I never competed with Riaan for a place and it seems that the chances that other players are given, were never given to me. Its sad but at some point you have to look at yourself.”

Ebersohn said he bore no grudges but said he had played at the best of his ability and the chances he was promised never materialised.

“It isn’t in my hands. I am not the coach and it was always Naka’s decision. As a player I will always give my best and this move won’t influence the way I play. It is disappointing to leave, especially when you realise they aren’t interested in you.

PROMISES NEVER MATERIALISED

“I had high expectations of the season, and things didn’t always go as I wanted them to go. But there were promises of playing time made that never materialised. Goosen had a good season and I am a player who plays not for money, but rather to enjoy the game. You can never get better unless you are backed and you improve on the field. Luckily this lesson has happened early in my career and I can learn from it.”

Ebersohn admits he never played enough, but drew a parallel with Bok incumbent Morne Steyn for the way the Bulls backed him when he wasn’t playing well.

“Morne has had – by his standards – one of the poorest kicking seasons of his career but he still plays and the team still backs him. I never played enough to get my self-confidence on a high and without those opportunities, you get rusty, you get “vrot”. You need to play to keep in form.”

Ebersohn praised backline coach Hawies Fourie for his contribution in his development, but again hinted at a fallout with Drotske.

“The Force approached me and I never spoke to them first. They said they think I am a good player and they want me as their No 1 flyhalf. What player in my position wouldn’t grab that opportunity. It’s heartbreaking that I had to make that decision but it is a career move. I’m not upset with the Cheetahs,” Ebersohn added.

“I learnt a lot in my time here, and not just on the field, but life lessons as well, especially from Hawies. My time here was good but there were many decisions that should have gone my way, many team selections that went against me.”

Ebersohn said he believed the change would do him good.

“There has been a lot said about me and what I am and who I am and it will be nice to get away from the criticism and start fresh. It's not nice when ugly things are said about you. A decision has been made, and if the Cheetahs thought I had a role to play, then they wouldn’t have let me go.”

Drotske earlier confirmed Ebersohn’s departure in a statement and wished him well.

"After long negotiations with Sias Ebersohn’s agent Gerrie Swart, the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd. and I have decided to release Sias of his 2013 contract with the Cheetahs," said Drotske.

"Sias wanted more exposure and felt that the Western Force offered him a step in the right direction for him as a player to accomplish his goals. We felt that we would not stand in his way and will release him from his 2013 contract.

"Sias will leave the Toyota Free State Cheetahs after the 2012 Absa Currie Cup to join the Western Force. We wish him the best of luck for his future and want to thank him for what he has meant for Cheetah rugby. "

The Force confirmed the announcement and said captain David Pocock had helped sway Ebersohn after the team’s recent clash in Bloemfontein.

RugbyWA chief executive Vern Reid confirmed as much in a statement.

"Following our meeting, Sias has agreed to accept our offer to be the foreign developing player for the Western Force in the 2013 season," Reid said.

"The agreement is now before the Australian Rugby Union as they need to approve any foreign developing player contracts under the contracting guidelines.

"Foreign developing players are signed on a two-year contract with a Super Rugby franchise and must exhibit potential to play for the Wallabies to be approved by the ARU.

"In our view, Sias has great potential to make a significant impact for the Western Force in the Super Rugby competition and at an international level and for the past couple of seasons has been touted as a future Springbok."

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