For now, Pieter-Steph du Toit will storm onto the field for Province
Player U-turns on cancelling contract, takes pay cut, but can negotiate with overseas clubs
When you are the world player of the year‚ it is perhaps natural for your contract negotiations to become seismic events.
The rumblings‚ uncertainty and dust eventually settled in Cape Town on Wednesday night when Pieter-Steph du Toit committed himself to the Cape.
For now, that is‚ as he will almost certainly leave for Europe after next year’s Test series against the British and Irish Lions.
After much obfuscation Du Toit has opted to remain with Western Province and the Stormers after his initial decision to cancel his contract shortly before the end to the 21-day window offered to players in return for a collective acceptance of pay cuts due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the end Du Toit did not cancel his contract‚ he merely had the existing one amended, which means he can now negotiate with overseas clubs. It also means‚ like his teammates‚ he has had to accept a salary reduction.
Du Toit initially indicated he would have his contract cancelled‚ but Western Province signalled their intention to dispute the legality of the opt-out window.
The franchise said in a statement it was in their and South African rugby’s interest to have the 55-Test veteran stay.
They stiffened their stance and, despite copping some criticism, got their man to stay.
Naturally‚ Stormers coach John Dobson is relieved.
“Pieter-Steph is an important team member. His extraordinary work-rate coupled with his ball-carrying skills‚ makes our forward pack even more formidable.
“The rehabilitation on his injury is progressing well and we are looking forward to seeing him in a Stormers jersey again when we get back on the field.
“Not only is this good for the Stormers and Western Province rugby‚ it is also good for South African rugby that we have kept such prominent players in the country‚ looking ahead at the post-pandemic rugby offering and market.
“We are proud as a union of our achievement of contracting eight Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks in the province and keeping them in the country‚” said Dobson.
The coach can now focus on getting his team ready for when on-field hostilities resume.
“With this period of uncertainty now behind us‚ we have managed to navigate this period relatively unscathed. We hope rugby will be able to resume as soon as is safely possible‚ so the faithful and rugby public can enjoy seeing this special group of athletes play rugby.
“Our efforts are now focused on conditioning and training‚ to ensure we are rugby-ready‚” Dobson added.