Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Western Province Rugby CEO Paul Zacks confirmed the cash-strapped union would be looking to offload players as part of a strategic plan.

Zacks, though, denied a report in an Afrikaans newspaper that it was a complete clearout of players, though he did not back this up with details.

"It is regrettable that the public has been presented with a factually incorrect and grossly misleading view of our confidential internal dealings with our senior player group.

"We back our contracted players wholeheartedly and all of those players who have contracts with WP Rugby for 2018 and beyond will all be honoured," Zacks said.

"However, we want to at all times ensure that we are looking after our players’ best interests, which for some of them, especially those coming off long-term injuries, means that they may benefit from a loan spell with another franchise in order to get much-needed game time and/or exposure to different international competitions.

"Our goal is to ensure a win-win for all parties, facilitating more game time for more players while simultaneously benefiting SA rugby as a whole.

"Any decision we make about player movements will always consider both the interests of the individual player as well as the union, with players remaining contracted to WP Rugby," Zacks said.

In the past two years players such as Craig Barry and Kurt Coleman were loaned to the Cheetahs and Southern Kings for PRO 14 duty respectively. Coleman eventually made the move permanent.

The Sunday report suggested that hooker Scarra Ntubeni and lock Chris van Zyl were two players set to leave the union, but Van Zyl denied this.

"Contrary to any news report or media, I am staying at WP Rugby and can’t wait to lead this exceptional team in the 2018 Currie Cup," Van Zyl wrote on social media.

The province has been battling on several fronts for almost two years now. In December 2016 the commercial arm of the union was liquidated under pressure of a R250m claim from commercial rights partner Aerios, and the new entity WP Rugby was formed.

There is also R44m owed to multinational corporation Remgro, who provided bridging finance to the union.

Remgro wanted guarantees that its loan was secure and in recent weeks the WP Rugby Football Union has secured that loan by bonding one (or possibly more) of its highly valued properties.

"WP Rugby can confirm that former WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd shareholder Remgro has not recalled their loans and that WP Rugby is in regular contact with Remgro with regard to its outstanding indebtedness to Remgro," the union said.

The union has also not provided any clarity on the Stormers coaching position after head coach Robbie Fleck and his management underwent their annual review.

Zacks preferred to focus on the Currie Cup team, which left for France on a preseason tour on Monday.

Zacks said the union had "every confidence" in the ability of the players and the management team under Chris van Zyl and John Dobson. "We believe that we have an exceptional player base," he said.