Durban – The Sharks have given a lifeline to former Springbok centre Francois Venter, who found himself unemployed a few weeks ago when Worcester Warriors went into liquidation.
The experienced Venter played seven Tests for the Boks in 2016 and 2017 and from 2018 he played 55 times for Worcester.
Before that, the 31-year-old had impressive careers with the Bulls and Cheetahs.
The Sharks are a touch thin in midfield and with Rohan Janse van Rensburg suspended for four matches, the sooner Venter can get to the Shark Tank, the better.
It is unlikely that Venter will be the last South African who has been playing aboard to return home to continue his career as the financial problems in the English Premiership worsen.
Wasps have joined Worcester in the insolvency courts and it means their players have to look for work elsewhere, and right now the English clubs are tightening their belts and are not in the market for new signings.
Apparently the Sharks were interested in Wasps centre Burger Odendaal, the former Lions captain, but Odendaal is in fine form and has attracted offers from other European clubs, and also Japan.
The crisis in England will have a ripple effect across the rugby world and a positive spinoff for SA rugby is that a number of overseas-based players, such as Venter, might be forced to return home, strengthening the local game.
Also, the annual departure of players from SA to Europe will be partially stemmed as overseas clubs tighten their belts.
We have already seen how the return of experienced players from the northern hemisphere boosts the SA game.
In particular, coach Jake White at the Bulls has brought home a raft of players who have strengthened the team while also performing the invaluable role of mentoring youngsters — the likes of Marcell Coetzee, Johan Goosen, Marco van Staden, Bismarck du Plessis and Lionel Mapoe.