Is Pretorius's Waratah dream over?
Waratahs scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius could be looking for a new home if reports from Australia are to be believed.
Pretorius was unceremoniously left out of the Waratahs match 22 this week for the game against the Brumbies and his position has become “under threat” at the struggling province, who may turn their eyes to try and bring in a big-name overseas player to fill the stands.
Pretorius made headlines last year when he chose to join the Australian side after a sensational season with the Cheetahs, but after initially showing some decent form, has struggled behind a Waratahs pack which has not had much success on the field.
As the Tahs struggled for results, so Pretorius’s form dipped, and it wasn’t long before he was on the bench behind Brendan McKibbin.
But this week, with the Tahs still searching for answers after a disastrous season, he was left out of the 22 for former All Black coach John Hart’s nephew Grayson Hart, and with just one game left after this weekend, is unlikely to start again.
Pretorius’s future is unclear at the moment, although he will return to South Africa at the end of next week to continue his Currie Cup contract with the Cheetahs.
But that contract is for two years, and only for the Currie Cup, while Pretorius does have another year to run at the Waratahs.
There is no clarity at the moment, and Pretorius may stay on in Sydney for next year’s competition, but the way things happen in Australia is that if they want to get rid of you, they can make you feel very unwelcome indeed.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske confirmed to SuperSport.com that there was no plan to bring Pretorius back to Bloemfontein for another Super Rugby stint.
Drotske of course has young Piet van Zyl to back, and after the performances he put in this year, as well as catching the eye of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, the young halfback may be a Bok sooner rather than later, so it makes sense to back him.
For the Currie Cup, both Pretorius and Van Zyl will battle it out, with veteran Tewis de Bruyn extending his contract for another three months to complete the domestic season.
But from then on, the Cheetahs haven’t got an option for the second scrumhalf, although Drotske’s words indicate that Pretorius is unlikely to feature anywhere in his plans if he does decide to return.
If Pretorius does end his contract, it will be a sad end for a talented player who has failed to find favour in South Africa.
For now it seems the ball is in the court of the Waratahs. With a promised season review likely to be scathing of coaching and tactics, there may be other casualties.
Pretorius may well be caught in the crossfire, or may escape it altogether. Either way, this week in the stands he will be a concerned man, and despite a contract, may feel his future is very uncertain.