Bulls or France for Vermaak?
Pretoria - Bulls scrumhalf Jano Vermaak will speak to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer before deciding between offers from the Bulls and French club Toulouse.
According to the supersport.com website, Vermaak, who will celebrate his 100th Super Rugby game when he comes off the bench for the Bulls this weekend against the Sharks, is in negotiations with both the Bulls and Toulouse, and several South African provinces as the tug-of-war continues about where his future will lie.
In sensational form at the moment, Vermaak was also named as one of only two scrumhalves in the 38-man Springbok training squad announced on Wednesday, and has been one of the mainstays in the Bulls successful campaign up until now in Super Rugby this season.
The news also follows hot on the heels of Chiliboy Ralepelle’s offer from the same club, with the Bulls hooker unhappy at not being given both a Springbok contract and being recognised by Meyer.
Ralepelle apparently also was in negotiations with Toulon, but that offer is now off the table and it is expected that Wallaby hooker Stephen Moore will sign at the Heineken Cup champions in the near future. At the moment there is a furious behind the scenes movement to try and get Ralepelle a Bok contract after he was initially ignored, but the chances of that happening are not good at all.
Still, to lose Vermaak would be a body blow to coach Frans Ludeke but there was unhappiness when the Bulls made him an initial offer which amounted to half his current salary at the union.
Since then the Bulls have upped their offer, but it will still not be enough to match the Euros on offer in France.
The big question for Vermaak however, remains his position in the eyes of Meyer, as his desire is very much to play in the Green and Gold.
His agent James Adams, confirmed that Vermaak had a formal offer from Toulouse.
“I can confirm we have an offer in writing, but Jano will not make a decision until he has had a chat to Heyneke about his future. He is very passionate about playing for the Springboks and will not make any decision right now. All he wants at the moment is to concentrate on his 100th game and to do his best for the Bulls this weekend,” Adams said.
Vermaak has hit top form this season, and his 100 games add up through 11 for the Cats, 62 for the Lions and 26 now for the Bulls since his midseason move two years ago.
There is also a possibility that Vermaak would stay in South Africa and move to another province if talks with the Bulls fall through.
The Bulls have already lost the likes of Juandre Kruger (Racing Metro), Morne Steyn (Stade Francais), Jacques Potgieter (Japan) and Zane Kirchner (Leinster) to overseas offers this season and with Ralepelle and Vermaak still in the balance, there is a concern among Bulls fans at the way their players are being targeted by overseas offers.
In Kruger’s case, his contract in France starts on July 1, although there are intense negotiations to try and keep him until the close of Super Rugby. Still, the Bulls may have to go into the playoffs without their main lineout weapon if they cannot come to an agreement.
Midfielder Francois Venter is another who has been linked with a move to the Cheetahs, although the Bulls have made a significant offer for his services. Bulls back-up hooker Willie Wepener and flank Dewald Potgieter are all busy in negotiations as well to extend their contracts.
On Wednesday Bulls CEO Barend van Graan lamented the way his players were being targeted, calling it a “concern” and admitting his union could only “work within our budget”. He did believe the Bulls structures were strong enough to ensure they continue recruiting the best talent in the country though.