Cape Town - Southern Kings flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis has confirmed his move back to Western Province for the ABSA Currie Cup season - but only time will tell whether there is any long term point to his switch back to Cape Town.
According to the supersport.com website, Catrakilis’ agent, James Adams, has told Cape based reporters that Catrakilis is only returning to WP on loan for the domestic season, with no decision having been made on his future after that.
With the Currie Cup these days all about developing players and a squad for Vodacom Super Rugby, there would appear little point in Catrakilis playing for Province only temporarily, so there must be an understanding that if he does well he will be available for the next Super Rugby season.
To play Catrakilis ahead of someone like Gary van Aswegen when he is not going to be available beyond the Currie Cup would be counter-productive, and would see the Stormers start next year in the same position as they were at the beginning of this season – in other words having to go into the first games with a different No 10 to the one that had played the bulk of the previous domestic campaign.
Catrakilis, who was also being courted by the Sharks and the Bulls, announced his move back to the Cape – he was the star of WP’s shock win over the Sharks in last year’s Currie Cup final – on twitter on Monday night.
Catrakilis is out of rugby for four weeks with a shoulder injury, which explains his omission from the 26-man squad called up to prepare for the competition opener against the Blue Bulls at Newlands on Saturday. Van Aswegen, brilliant against the Bulls in the last Super Rugby match, will wear the No 10, and these early weeks will offer an opportunity at some stage to young under-21 player Tim Swiel and Kurt Coleman.
Of course Van Aswegen has been quite injury plagued in the past, and that may have weighed on the decision to contract Catrakilis on a short-term basis. But going forward it is hard to see what purpose his presence will serve if he is not going to be playing Super Rugby next year.
Meanwhile it looks as though the powerfully built Pat Howard might be used as an outside centre in place of Juan de Jongh, who has been called up to the Springbok squad ahead of the Castle Rugby Championships.
Howard looks the perfect antidote to one of WP’s biggest but most ignored problems - lack of bulk in the back three - but for now it looks as though he will be learning the ropes in a different position.
When De Jongh and Jean de Villiers return to action in Super Rugby the time that Howard has spent in the midfield might prove useful to his chances of nailing down a place on the Stormers’ wing.