Bulls snap up diamond-in-the-rough Gqoboka
THE Bulls have wasted no time in beefing up their Super Rugby squad by signing the much- vaunted EP Kings loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka on a two-year deal, and it is likely that the raid of the beleaguered Kings is set to continue with No 8 Tim Agaba, lock Thembelani Bholi and wing Luther Obi firmly on the Bulls’ radar.
The signing of Gqoboka will be a major boost for the Bulls ahead of next year’s Super Rugby season as their scrum struggled in this year’s competition.
It was the Bulls’ speed off the mark that secured them the signature of Gqoboka who had already given the Kings management notice to leave after their salaries were not paid yet again.
Gqoboka, along with centre Tim Whitehead, this week exercised his right not to report for training with the Kings as the franchise were in breach of contract by not paying their salaries.
Gqoboka is highly regarded around the country and his surprise inclusion into the Springbok training camp in September last year in Stellenbosch thrust him into the spotlight.
The 25- year- old hails from the village of Ntabankulu in the old Transkei in the Eastern Cape and is considered a late bloomer, after only taking up rugby six years ago while studying in Durban.
Blue Bulls Company high performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg confirmed the signing of Gqoboka yesterday, calling the young front- ranker a rough diamond that will shine at the Bulls and become a Bok in the not too distant future.
“I think he is a quality player and there is a huge respect and liking for him throughout South Africa. He is rated big time by scrum coaches throughout the country and many think that he is a diamond that has not been properly groomed yet,”Janse van Rensburg said.
“We look forward to getting our hands on him, letting him shine and see him become a Springbok. I think he hasn’t reached his full potential but he is a massive coup for us and we are very excited.”
While Janse van Rensburg couldn’t divulge if the Bulls were in discussion with Bholi, Agaba and Obi, it is understood that the deal to get the trio to Loftus Versfeld could be concluded by the end of the weekend.
Agaba, who also hails from the Eastern Cape in Mthatha, impressed during this year’s Currie Cup competition while Bholi’s ability to play at lock and loose forward caught the eye of Bulls coach Nollis Marais.
Marais has previously spoken of Bholi as the next Danie Rossouw, who played for the Bulls and Boks as a utility forward.
Obi has also been on the Bulls wish list and a move to acquire him last year was blocked due to legal issues with his former employers at the Leopards.
“There are more Kings players that we are looking at but I can’t say anything more about that at the moment. When we get more clarity on them we will say something,” Janse van Rensburg said.
TIM AGABA: Also on Bulls’ radar