Acker Strikes Again!

Johan Ackermann has lured yet another South African player to join his expat clan in Gloucester.

The Lions are gratefully relieved to hear the news that it is not another of their squad that has been recruited by Ackermann. This time it is Sharks’ hooker Franco Marias who will join Gloucester as the Super Rugby season ends.

Marais has signed on at the Cherry and Whites for the 2018-19 season.

Akker van der Merwe’s dominance as the Sharks first choice hooker, with Chiliboy Ralepelle’s presence further diluting Marais’ opportunities to play has meant that he not featured for the Sharks in recent weeks, and this may be a motivating factor to his decision to leave.

One wonders whether Ackermann’s penchant for the recruitment of South Africans will start to irritate locals and aspirant players back in Gloucester as did Jake White’s persistence with foreigners at Montpellier? If one looks at the coach’s new signings for 2018/9, six of the eleven are South Africans. This at a time when Gloucester have released 19 “local” players.

Player movements at Gloucester are:

In: Matt Banahan (Bath), Franco Marais (Sharks), Jaco Kriel (Lions), Danny Cipriani (Wasps), Franco Marias (Sharks), Tom Hudson (Academy), Gerbrandt Grobler (Munster), Will Safe (Academy), Franco Mostert (Lions), Ruan Dreyer (Lions), Todd Gleave (London Irish)

Out: Ross Moriarty (Dragons), Richard Hibbard (Dragons), John Afoa (Bristol Bears), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Cameron Orr (Western Force), Andy Symons (Northampton Saints), Tom Denton (Ealing Trailfinders), Harry Randall (Bristol Bears), David Halaifonua (Coventry), Charlie Beckett (Jersey Reds), Jeremy Thrush (Western Force), Ed Bogue (Cinderford), Motu Matu’u (London Irish), Elliott Creed (Doncaster Knights), Billy Burns (Ulster), Jacob Rowan (released), Alfie North (released), Carwyn Penny (released), Mason Tonks (released)

(While there are still uncertainties about Franco Mostert’s transfer to Gloucester, Gloucester are adamant that they had signed Mostert from the Lions. However,  the Lions are disputing the transfer on the grounds of irregular player movement.)