Departing Vermaak consigned to bench
August 3, 2011
Vermaak has shone for the Lions in his six years with the Johannesburg side © Getty Images
Golden Lions coach John Mitchell is trying to look at the positives despite losing his star scrum-half Jano Vermaak to the Blue Bulls.
Vermaak - who announced on Tuesday he was going to join the Lions' Currie Cup rivals - has been in sensational form for the Johannesburg side in 2011 - scoring a hat-trick against the Leopards in the process.
And Mitchell - who admitted he was upset at losing his star half-back - will use Vermaak in a back-up role for the rest of the season in an attempt to blood the Lions' next generation.
"You need to look at the positives in situations like this," Mitchell said. "Sure, it's a blow to lose a player of Jano's caliber, but now we can look to the future - who at the moment is Michael Bondesio and Rudy Paige, who I see great potential in - and we can start investing in and focusing on them and developing other future scrum halves within the Lions.
"Jano will still be with the Lions for the rest of the season, but I will use this as an opportunity to develop my future players and utilise Jano in case of injuries. To say that we were blindsided by Jano's decision to leave the Lions would be an understatement, and I can't say we're very pleased about the situation, but you can't retain players if their hearts are elsewhere.
"I wish Jano success in the future and thank him for his contribution."
Vermaak - who has signed a two-year deal with the Blue Bulls - conceded that while it would be difficult to leave the Lions, the prospect of potential business opportunities in Pretoria helped sway his decision saying: "I've been at the Lions for such a long time - nearly six years and I just need a change and a new challenge at this point.
"This wasn't just a rugby decision, but also a business one. There are some business opportunities in Pretoria and I need to start looking at my life after rugby."
Meanwhile the Bulls have further bolstered their ranks ahead of 2012 with the signing of EP Kings utility forward Jacques Potgieter on a two-year deal. The 26-year-old shone in the recent Nations Cup in Romania. And the back-row-come-lock is relishing the chance of playing for the 2010 Super Rugby champions.
"The Bulls are the best team in the country and one of the top sides in Super Rugby," Potgieter said. "I believe my approach to the game and their style of play will be a perfect fit. "I am keen to join an outfit with a track record of Super Rugby and Currie Cup success and believe this move will be highly beneficial for me as a player and a person."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
ESPN looks at the forthcoming season of the Guinness PRO12 and assesses how each of the 12 teams will do
"Like the Treaty of Versailles, despite all the promises, the new Participation Agreement is certainly not the final solution." John Taylor writes
"We know where we are going and we know where we want to get but how long that will take is anybody's guess." David Humphreys on his plans for Gloucester
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch