Bulls snap up di­a­mond-in-the-rough Gqoboka

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI

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

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