Sharks’ JP Pietersen set to sign ‘monster deal’ with Japanese club

2013-04-23 00:00

JP PIETERSEN, the Sharks’ world-class wing, is joining the steady exodus of South Africa’s leading rugby players and is about to sign a “monster deal” with a Japanese club.

Pietersen’s unique two-year contract with the Japanese club will kick in after this year’s Super Rugby competition, but will allow him to continue his career with the Sharks and the Springboks.

He will return to Durban by March to play Super Rugby for the Sharks in 2014 and he will be available for the Springboks for the June and November Tests.

However, the rangy wing, the most dangerous attacker in the Sharks backline and one of their stronger defenders, will be unavailable for the Boks in this year’s Rugby Championship and the Sharks’ Currie Cup team.

The deal with the Japanese club and an extension of his Sharks’ contract were close to being finalised, his agent James Adams told reporters yesterday.

He described the deal as “a monster, one of the biggest ever done in SA Rugby”.

He said French clubs Toulon and Stade Francais had also been chasing Pietersen, but he had chosen to sign for a Japanese club so that he could continue playing

Super Rugby for the Sharks.

Adams said Pietersen had been looking for a change in rugby environment by playing in Japan. He added that the Sharks and Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer had been party to the discussions and had reacted positively to the proposed deal.

Pietersen is on his way to New Zealand with the Super Rugby squad and is nursing an ankle injury that is likely to sideline him for Saturday’s tour opener against the Chiefs.

Speaking before flying out with the Sharks, Pietersen said he remained fully committed to playing for the Sharks and Springboks.

Another Springbok, fullback Zane Kirchner, yesterday confirmed that he would further his career in Ireland.

He has signed a two-year contract with Leinster and will leave the Bulls later this year.

Bulls manager Xander Janse van Rensburg said yesterday that every effort had been made to keep Kirchner in Pretoria.

“We tried our best to keep the player in Pretoria, but could not compete with the exchange rate and the expectations of Zane and his agent.”

Leading Springboks Fourie du Preez and Jaque Fourie are already plying their trade in Japan while Springboks Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn, Juandré Kruger and Andries Bekker are among the many other top South African players who have recently signed for foreign clubs.

• The Sharks yesterday named their tour replacements for the latest in a long line of injuries to their two loosehead props, Beast Mtawarira (calf tear) and Allan Dell (knee ligaments), and wing Andries Coetzee (dislocated shoulder).

On loan from the Lions will be their highly-rated prop and captain JC Janse van Rensburg, who is to join French club Bayonne later this year.

Van Rensburg, a consistent performer for the Lions in recent years, was included in the Springbok tour to the UK late last year, but has played no Tests. He would be a quality replacement for Mtawarira, but the Lions prop was unable to leave South Africa yesterday and will only join up with the Sharks later in the week.

Two of the Sharks’ Vodacom Cup players, Danie Mienie (loosehead prop) and Bok Sevens wing S’bura Sithole, who has already played Super Rugby, flew out yesterday and will link up with the Sharks in Sydney.

The Sharks will then travel on to Hamilton where they meet the champion Chiefs on Saturday (9.35 am SA time) in a repeat of last year’s final. New Zealand referee Chris Pollock will referee the game.

Sharks tour matches:

Saturday vs Chiefs in Hamilton.

Saturday (May 4) vs Highlanders in Dunedin.

Friday (May 10) vs Reds in Brisbane.

Friday (May 17) vs Force in Perth.

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