Sharks defy SARU's 'request'
Cape Town - The Sharks have controversially opted not to adhere to a request from the South African Rugby Union (SARU) to rest top Springboks in this year's Super Rugby competition.
READ: SARU clarifies 'rest' stance
SARU met with the South African Super Rugby franchises in pre-season where it was agreed that top Springboks would not be utilised for more than five games on the trot in this year's competition.
SARU on Wednesday confirmed that it was not a legally binding agreement, but that the franchises would do their best to adhere to it where possible, considering it's a Rugby World Cup year and the management of top Springboks is of essence.
However, when the Sharks on Thursday named their team for this weekend's match against the Chiefs they included three key Springboks for a sixth week in a row.
Flank Marcell Coetzee, scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and flyhalf Pat Lambie were all named in the starting team for Saturday's clash against the Chiefs. The trio started in all five of the Sharks' Super Rugby games to date.
The Sharks explained their decision via their official website:
"The Springbok trio of Marcell Coetzee, Patrick Lambie and Cobus Reinach will all feature in this vital match. There was doubt over their inclusion after playing five matches, but SA Rugby has confirmed that the Springbok player management agreement with the South African Super Rugby franchises is not a legally binding understanding. Instead SA Rugby expects them to stick as close to it as possible in the interests of the Springboks," the statement from the Sharks read.
Questions have understandably been raised about the Sharks' decision, considering the Stormers have already confirmed that they won't play captain Duane Vermeulen in their first overseas match against the Highlanders next weekend, while the Cheetahs have opted to rest wing Cornal Hendricks for this weekend's match against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske also said this week that he intends to rest fullback Willie le Roux, prop Coenie Oosthuizen and flank Oupa Mohoje for their next game against the Chiefs.