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Mains forced to change approach on race quotas
March 7, 2000

Fate has forced the hand of Cats coach Laurie Mains to field at least two black players in his squad of 22 to take on the NSW Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.

With both first-choice inside centres, Japie Mulder and Wickus Venter, sidelined through injury, Mains has no option but to include Mac Masina in the squad, although Jannie van der Walt seems likely to start.

Mains has included only one black player, Chester Williams, in the Cats team for the first two games.

SARFU have been getting hot under the collar ever since Mains reneged on an alleged "gentleman's agreement" to include at least two players of colour in the Cats' squad for any match.

Mains denies any knowledge of this agreement.

SARFU Chief Executive Rian Oberholzer said on Monday that he had spoken to his Cats counterpart Johan Botes about the lack of black representation in the their team.

"The Cats acknowledge there was a gentleman's agreement and they have given us a commitment that two black players will be included in the match squad of 22 as of the third round. I am extremely disappointed it needed us to intervene to get it right. The main thing is the problem has been sorted out," said Oberholzer.

The crunch will come the following weekend when the Cats face the Highlanders, a match for which Mulder should be fit for selection. If Mains adheres to the SARFU decree, Masina will again be warming the bench but at the expense of Van der Walt. And what happens if either of Williams or Masina pull-up injured? Will Mains fly Kaya Molatana down under despite his failure until now to have challenged for a Super 12 spot?

Mains has thus far proved to be his own man - reluctant to bow to pressure. But SARFU are equally determined to push through transformation. Mains will be forced to play his hand on March 17, the date of the Dunedin clash.

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