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Fri Apr 18 07:45:05 SAST 2014

How WP let stars go

CRAIG RAY | 05 July, 2012 07:270 Comments
South Africa U/20 team training session
Handre Pollard of the South Africa U/20 team takes part in a training session at Gardens Tech Rugby Fields on June 14, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa
Image by: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images

WESTERN Province Rugby chief executive Rob Wagner has come out strongly against criticism after losing two high-profile young players to other teams in the past week.

Lock Quinn Roux is set to join Irish club Leinster on a one-year deal at the conclusion of the Super 15, but it's the news that SA under-20 flyhalf Handre Pollard will join the Bulls next year that has riled Cape fans the most.

Pollard, 18, will captain the WP Craven Week team in Port Elizabeth next week, but it will be the last time in the foreseeable future that he dons the hooped jersey.

He was a key member of the SA under-20 side that won the recent Junior World Championship on home soil and is seen by many experts as a future Springbok.

Fans have taken to social networks to vent their anger at Western Province over the loss of Pollard and Roux and other players, among them centre Johann Sadie.

Wagner yesterday revealed details of the negotiations to keep Pollard in Cape Town. These went back almost two years. He detailed e-mail and verbal communication between WP and Pollard's father, who would not commit to a contract. Pollard was offered a contract on August 10 2010, but a month later his father rejected it.

In the documentation Wagner put forward, Pollard snr said his son was undecided about whether to play rugby after school or study. The Sharks had also expressed an interest in Pollard jnr.

"This is a professional era and players move for a variety of reasons, with money being one of them," Wagner said.

"In contracting players we operate ethically and honestly and we will not guarantee starting places as part of our negotiations. Players who join us, or stay with us, will not be contracted at the expense of team spirit and won't be paid sums that will affect team harmony.

"And here I have to unfortunately bring in the case of Johann Sadie. He was offered more than we were willing and able to pay and we were not prepared to upset our team harmony."

Roux has decided to further his career in Ireland, but Wagner said he also turned down a big offer from the Bulls to re-join them. Roux was a schoolboy at Pretoria's Afrikaans Boys' High before coming to WP two years ago.

"We have lost a few players in recent weeks but it's not for lack of trying to keep them here," Wagner said.

"It's part and parcel of the professional game."

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