Du Toit commits to the Sharks

2013-07-20 00:00

AND, finally, some good news. The Sharks have shaken off the attentions of the Bulls and contracted their precociously-talented Pieter-Steph du Toit on a new two-year contract.

The 20-year-old lock, one of the hottest properties in South African rugby, has been pursued by a number of other unions with the Blue Bulls and Western Province leading the chase.

But yesterday the Sharks ended the speculation by confirming that Du Toit had “reaffirmed his commitment to the Sharks by re-signing for a further two years”.

The two-metre tall, 115 kg youngster, a product of Boland and the grandson of former Springbok prop Piet “Spiere” du Toit, was a member of the Baby Boks team which won the 2012 Junior World Cup in 2012.

He was one of the few players to shine in a patchy Sharks’ Super Rugby season until a sternum injury ended his campaign shortly after he was included in the Springbok squad.

Sharks CEO John Smit said yesterday that Du Toit had shown “great promise” this year.

“He has had a positive impact on the team, since joining the senior set-up. We are thrilled that he has reaffirmed his commitment to the Sharks.”

Team commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli, who has been tasked with contracting players during the uncertainty of the past few weeks, was relieved to finally contract Du Toit, particularly after the Bulls — and former Springbok lock Victor Matfield — had made a public and determined effort to entice him to Pretoria.

“We are delighted to have secured the signature of a player of the calibre of Pieter-Steph. He has also been developed through the Sharks Academy and he has a bright future.”

The young Du Toit — a physical, mobile and energetic forward who can play lock or flank, said yesterday he was “living his dream” in Durban.

“As a 20-year-old I am extremely privileged to be identified by the Sharks as a player who can play a role in the province going forward.

“I will continue to learn from the many experienced players in our team and I hope that I can make the contribution required and expected of me. I will work as hard as I can and always do my best for the Sharks,” said Du Toit.

The Sharks have contracted most of their high profile players. The Du Plessis brothers, Bismarck and Jannie, and Springbok backrower Willem Alberts have yet to sign contracts, but they have committed themselves to staying on with the Sharks.

Fullback Louis Ludik is being wooed by French club Agen, but the Sharks are still hoping to extend his stay in Durban.

Fullback Riaan Viljoen, centre Meyer Bosman and lock Jandré Marais have been released by the Sharks and will join overseas clubs, while wing JP Pietersen and No 8 Ryan Kanksowksi will play club rugby in Japan before returning to Durban early next year.

A number of players — among them Pieter-Steph du Toit and centres Frans Steyn and Tim Whitehead — will also be returning from injury during the Currie Cup.

But the Sharks will play most of the Currie Cup without their many Springboks, who will be involved in the Rugby Championships which starts next month.

The Sharks open their Currie Cup game against Griquas at King’s Park on August 9.

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