New EP Elephants coach Peter de Villiers may have landed his first major signing as head of the Eastern Cape franchise.
According to reports, former Sharks flyhalf Inny Radebe has started training with the team and could feature if they are included in the mooted Franchise Cup.
Although still unconfirmed at this stage, the EP Elephants could be in action in around six weeks’ time when a new eight-team Franchise Cup tournament kicks off at the end of February.
This comes as a result of the 14-team SA Cup competition, due to start in March, seemingly having been canned.
DE VILLIERS IS ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT HAVING RADEBE
Radebe, 26, arrived in Port Elizabeth for a trial and, according to the Herald, former Springbok coach De Villiers is enthusiastic about having him in his squad.
‘It is a sin in South African rugby that a guy like Inny isn’t playing for a big union.
‘He is one of those gifted players who we simply have to make space for, so for me it is a privilege to allow him to direct my backline.
‘He understands precisely where the gaps in the defensive line are, and I think we have to give him an opportunity,’ Peter de Villiers added.
While a deal hasn’t been finalised at this stage, Radebe said he is attracted to the possibility of living in the Eastern Cape.
‘It hasn’t been decided that I will be playing for EP, but I am training with the team and I am strongly considering staying here [in Port Elizabeth],’ Radebe said.
Having caught the eye as a schoolboy prodigy while representing the Golden Lions at the 2013 U18 Craven Week, Radebe joined the Sharks after school and continued to showcase his skills for the UKZN Impi and Sharks Under-19 team.
Radebe made his senior breakthrough in 2016 at age 22 and earned his first Super Rugby cap in early 2017.
However, he then suffered a knee meniscus tear, which halted his development and would continue to plague his career as a player.
A FINE SPRINGBOK RECORD
While not everyone’s cup of tea while at the helm of the Springboks, under Peter de Villiers’ leadership (from 2008 to 2011) the national side won 30 of their 48 matches.
That 62.5% win percentage included a 47% win percentage against the All Blacks, having played them 11 times, winning 5 and losing 6 of those matches.
De Villiers is the first Springbok coach since Nick Mallett to have a 100% win record over the All Blacks in a single year (2009).
De Villiers led the Springboks to victory in the 2009 Tri-Nations as well as a Test series win over the British & Irish Lions the same year.