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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Van Niekerk unsure about Saints
By Simon Austin

Joe van Niekerk
Van Niekerk is keen to move after the World Cup in October

South Africa back-row Joe van Niekerk is having second thoughts about joining Northampton because of their precarious league position, says his agent.

Bottom-of-the-table Saints have offered Van Niekerk a lucrative contract, but he fears they could be relegated.

"He really likes the club and wants to play for them," his mother and agent Cathy van Niekerk told BBC Sport.

"It's just sad they are where they are. It would be quite a comedown for Joe to play in the English second division."

Van Niekerk said her son had been offered a contract worth more than 200,000 a year by the Saints, who are bottom of the Guinness Premiership with only three games left to secure their top-flight status.

But the 26-year-old forward intends to make a decision on his future within the next 10 days because other British and French clubs are interested in signing him.

He won't be moving abroad to have a holiday

Cathy van Niekerk
Player's mother and agent

"Other clubs are pursuing Joe and we can't keep them waiting," Van Niekerk said. "They are not prepared to wait."

Van Niekerk, who has won 46 caps for the Springboks, was invited to Franklin's Gardens to watch Northampton take on Sale on 17 March.

Although they could only manage an 18-18 draw, he was impressed with the set-up at the club.

"He loved everything there - the stadium, the fans and the way they do business," his mother said.

"Joe also felt he could make a difference in that side. He is a lot faster than the loose forwards they have and more of a playmaker.

"We've had a lot of discussions with them and everything is great, except the prospect of relegation.

"It's a shame, because they are a great club, but they are just not performing at the moment."

Van Niekerk is on the brink of becoming only the seventh Springbok to gain 50 caps.

Yet he is keen to play abroad and escape "the politics" of rugby in the country, according to his mother.

"It's the next step in his career," she added. "But he won't be moving abroad to have a holiday.

"He is looking for more than just making money and having fun."

Northampton declined to comment on the story when contacted.



SEE ALSO
Bristol 31-19 Northampton
25 Mar 07 |  English
Northampton 18-18 Sale
17 Mar 07 |  English


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