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Sharks poach Cheetahs Mapoe
Lionel Mapoe (Gallo Images)
Bloemfontein – Star Cheetahs wing Lionel Mapoe has secretly joined the Sharks and the 21-year-old Sevens Springbok is set to start training with his new “team-mates” this week.
The Cheetahs are up in arms about Mapoe “disappearing” from the Free State and his unexpected arrival at the Sharks.
Nobody in the management of Free State rugby knew about Mapoe’s shock move and they are furious about the manner in which one of their top players has been poached.
Free State Rugby Union (FSRU) president Harold Verster maintains that they have a “watertight and valid contract with Mapoe”.
It now appears as if the rugby unions of the Free State and Sharks are heading for a legal showdown that may involve the South African Rugby Union.
The Sharks have also been involved in a legal tussle with the Golden Lions Rugby Union about Louis Ludik and Willem Alberts. Earlier, the Lions and Western Province were also in a dispute over Jaque Fourie.
There was initially talk that Mapoe was a target for the Blue Bulls as they looked to replace Bryan Habana.
Verster says the Cheetahs have a valid contract with Mapoe that stretches until 31 October 2011.
“We got senior legal advice about his contract and are convinced that it is valid,” said Verster.
“We won’t issue a clearance certificate for Lionel to play or train elsewhere. If that happens, the FRU will take steps against the people involved. Mapoe is a talented player that we identified at schools level and offered a contract as a junior. He chose to accept our three-year contract offer.”
Mapoe and his representatives were at logger heads with the FRU over his small salary at the Cheetahs earlier this year. The Cheetahs then looked for sponsorships to increase his salary and were convinced that his unhappiness was something of the past.
Meanwhile, Johann Thormählen reports that Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss is set to stay in Bloemfontein in spite of big overseas offers.
Strauss was on the shopping list of the Leicester Tigers in England and the Melbourne Rebels in Australia.