WHAT was supposed to be a big announcement today was confirmed yesterday — Springbok fullback Willie le Roux will join the Sharks for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Social media was abuzz on Monday and yesterday after a number of websites reported Le Roux was set to join the Durban outfit from the Cheetahs. The Sharks made the announcement official a day before they were scheduled to do so — mainly due to the widespread news online.
Sharks CEO John Smit confirmed the signing yesterday afternoon.
“Willie is an excellent acquisition for the Sharks. He is a game-breaker who has shown on numerous occasions his class and ability to turn defence into attack. He will certainly strengthen and add great value to our backline,” Smit said.
“We are delighted that he has accepted our offer to ply his trade in Durban and look forward to welcoming him to the Sharks family.”
Le Roux, who has been likened to former Springbok fullback Andre Joubert, is set to join a Japanese club during the Currie Cup before returning to Durban ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby competition — much like JP Pietersen, Ryan Kankowski, Frans Steyn and Jean Deysel did this year.
The Sharks have pilfered two of the Cheetahs’ best players this season, having announced the signing of utility back Joe Pietersen last week. Another Springbok based at the Cheetahs, Cornal Hendricks, is also negotiating with other unions — with the Sharks reportedly interested in signing the wing.
Meanwhile, the Cheetahs claimed the services of flyhalf Fred Zeilinga from the Sharks last week.
Le Roux is currently the Springboks’ first-choice fullback. Despite having only played 25 Tests for the national team, Le Roux has impressed with his affinity for attacking play — helping the Boks score some impressive tries last season.
Le Roux’s signing is also encouraging, as SP Marais has had an indifferent season at fullback for the Sharks this year. Springbok wing Lwazi Mvovo took over the duties in the back field and the Sharks attack benefited from his presence.
He will also bring a wealth of experience and leadership, as the Du Plessis brothers and Willem Alberts depart from the Sharks at the end of the Super Rugby season