New Sharks recruit SP Marais said it was not easy leaving Port Elizabeth for Durban, following his recent switch from the Southern Kings, but felt the move was necessary for his long-term ambitions.
The 24-year-old was the biggest pre-Currie Cup signing for the KwaZulu-Natal side and their new coaching staff.
Marais revealed on Tuesday he turned down offers from the Bulls and Cheetahs following his former team’s relegation from Super Rugby.
“There were a few options but I had to look at the bigger picture,” he said.
“I had to make a sound decision and, for any rugby player, the most important thing is your game time and that was one of the big factors that brought me here.”
The Cape Town-born player made a successful start with the Sharks scoring a match-winning try on debut against the Lions last Friday.
“As you see, I’ve been here a week and already got the opportunity,” Marais said.
“I need to use these opportunities now, so that when Super Rugby comes around next year, I’ve already found my place here.
“The first game was good, but it was more about the team winning and I’m glad I was part of that.”
His decision to leave Eastern Province was based on his ultimate goal to play for the Springboks.
“If you want to go further and into the green and gold, then this is the way to do it.
“So it was time for me to move and I’m very happy to be here.”
Marais credited Alan Zondagh, former Western Cape coach and founder of the Rugby Performance Center (RPC), as well as ex-Springbok assistant Alan Solomons, who recently left the Kings, for enhancing his development.
“The two of them played quite a big role in my career,” he said.
The Sharks on Tuesday confirmed Jacques Botes would stay on as captain for the competition, despite the return of Keegan Daniel.
The regular skipper missed the opening two games of the campaign with a knee injury, but would be back this week, said backs coach Sean Everitt.
“We want to keep Jacques as captain just for continuity purposes,” Everitt said. “
Just because it’s a new group, with new coaches, the more continuity you have the better. He’s done really well and we want him to continue.”
Daniel would wear the number six jersey instead of Brynard Stander, who was ruled out due to a ligament problem.
Odwa Ndungane and Tim Whitehead (ankle and rib) were also out — the former after sustaining a hamstring injury on Friday, although Sizo Maseko, Jean Deysel and Marco Wentzel have all been passed fit to play. – Sapa