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Rugby | Pro14

Rudy Paige © Gallo Images

Paige signs for Cheetahs

Springbok scrumhalf Rudy Paige will join the Toyota Cheetahs for the rest of the Pro14 season.

Paige, who was controversially left out of the Vodacom Bulls’ squad last month, will join the Cheetahs with immediate effect and will stay there until the end of the competition.

The Cheetahs confirmed the signing in a statement and said the decision to contract Paige was because of the injuries they currently have at a crucial time in the Pro14 competition.

“Springbok scrumhalf Rudi Page has committed to a three-month agreement with the Toyota Cheetahs and he will serve as cover for Zee Mkhabela and Tian Meyer. The other scrumhalves in the group, Shaun Venter and Ruan van Rensburg are sidelined due to injury,” the statement read.

“With the other two young scrumhalves, Dian Badenhorst and Revan Kruger involved in Vasity Cup and on SA under-20 level, Page’s availability will come at an important stage of the competition seeing that the Cheetahs is well placed to reach the playoffs.”

The Bulls are currently on tour in New Zealand with Paige back in Pretoria but it has been clear that Paige has not been part of John Mitchell’s plans for a while now.

Paige’s agent Anthony Johnson said there had been fruitful discussions with Free State Director of Rugby Franco Smith, who had worked with Paige at Springbok level before.

“Rudy needs to go to a team where he has the coaches backing and where he can potentially get regular game time. Franco has been very positive about Rudy in my discussions with him so hopefully he can get the best out of the player,” Johnson said.

However, there are concerns that Paige may be lost overseas at the end of the Pro14, and the move to the Cheetahs is likely to highlight his value on the overseas market.

Mitchell said at the time he had rather decided to back young scrumhalves like Embrose Papier.

"When it comes to selecting a Super Rugby side it takes time. This has taken a lot longer than I would like normally," Mitchell explained at the time.

"It was very important for me not to be hasty and to make sure that I had enough information on players' standards.

"He (Paige) has been fantastic for the club. He's made it his life in recent years and has given a lot, but I just thought it was time to move forward with the young No 9s. I like a very fast No 9 and certainly all the No 9s that we've selected have that ability."

"Should we get injuries then we're very fortunate to have somebody of his experience.

"He's a very infectious, enthusiastic guy as well. It was difficult sitting him down and telling him the news but he's taken it as well as anyone could."

But now that Paige is heading to the Cheetahs, it is clear he wasn’t part of Mitchell’s plans at all.


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