Not fair to stop Wilco

The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport -

– Thurs­day’s news that highly-rated Spring­bok prop Wilco Louw (above) will be leav­ing the Storm­ers at the end of the 2020 Super Rugby sea­son con­firmed another ma­jor loss for South African rugby.

Still just 25, Louw has been one of the most highly-rated front-row­ers in the coun­try for a cou­ple of years now and he has amassed 13 Test caps since mak­ing his de­but back in 2017.

It is a po­si­tion where the coun­try has had qual­ity depth for some time now, though, and with the likes of Frans Mal­herbe, Trevor Nyakane and Vin­cent Koch edg­ing ahead of Louw from a Spring­bok per­spec­tive.

Louw was not se­lected in the vic­to­ri­ous 2019 Rugby World Cup-win­ning squad and he has now been re­leased early from his con­tract with Western Prov­ince Rugby to join English club Har­lequins.

A big part of the rea­son to al­low Louw to leave, Storm­ers coach John Dob­son says, was be­cause he could not be given any guar­an­tees in terms of game time or peck­ing or­der be­cause the man above him in Mal­herbe is “so good”.

“It is tough to lose him be­cause he’s a guy we’re very fond of,” Dob­son said of Louw.

“He has a great track record and he’s still very young as a tight­head.

“This is an op­por­tu­nity he couldn’t say no to. He didn’t make the World Cup squad and there’s a chance for him to get nine or 10 years of pro­fes­sional rugby earn­ing Eu­ros. We couldn’t stand in his way, given the numbers.

“With an in­cred­i­ble qual­ity prop like Frans Mal­herbe, you can’t go to Wilco Louw and give him an as­sur­ance be­cause Frans is so good. It was the right thing for us.”

“We can’t give him guar­an­tees even around game time.

“Rugby is not a sport where we can tell peo­ple they must stay. He gen­uinely goes with our bless­ing and our af­fec­tion.”

Dob­son pointed to 27-yearold Neeth­ling Fouche as next in line for the Storm­ers. – Sport24

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