Bulls look to lose another young star
THE Bulls stand to lose the services of another rising star in their ranks as former SA U20 captain William Small-Smith officially requested permission to negotiate with other provinces.
Small-Smith’s contract ends in October and the talented midfielder is looking for a new home after minimal game time at the Bulls.
Small-Smith was in the initial Bulls squad, but an injury early in the season allowed Burger Odendaal to pass him in the pecking order, with the Bulls disregarding the form he is in when selecting for their Super Rugby tour overseas. It is understandable that he would be frustrated at his development being stunted by not playing at Super Rugby level.
Reports suggest there is a lot of interest in Small-Smith from outside Pretoria, with both the Sharks and Cheetahs set to make offers when the negotiation process opens.
Currently, Small-Smith cannot negotiate with any other province until July 1, unless given permission by the Blue Bulls Company.
It is likely the Bulls will try to fight Small-Smith’s decision by using a clause in the contract that says they have the right to match any offer, but as in the case of Bongi Mbonambi — who was in a similar spot last season before accepting a contract at the Stormers — it will be difficult to keep him in Pretoria if he doesn’t want to stay. If he does leave it will be another young talent lost by the Bulls because of a lack of game time.
Some inexplicable selections, including in the overseas tour squad, have meant that Small-Smith has played most of his rugby in the Vodacom Cup this year.
While he scored three tries in the quarterfinal win over the Free State Cheetahs, Small-Smith was not included in the touring squad, nor called up when fellow midfielder Jan Serfontein was injured, with the Bulls opting for Jurgen Visser to head overseas. Ironically the Bulls struggle with depth at 13, with JJ Engelbrecht the only player they’ve used in the position all season, who is off to Japan at the end of the year.
Small-Smith referred all questions to his lawyer Gerrie Swart, who “elected not to comment”.
The Bulls also declined to comment on the matter. — SuperSport