Cape Town - The Lions insist they have not released scrumhalf Faf de Klerk from his contract to sign a deal with English club Sale Sharks.
This comes after the Sale Sharks on Monday announced that they had signed the Springbok No 9 on a three-year deal.
However, the Lions subsequently released a statement regarding the news.
“The Lions Rugby Company can confirm that they are in negotiations with the Sale Sharks regarding the contract offered to Lions scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and will make a statement on the issue once the player has returned to South Africa,” the Lions commented via a press statement.
De Klerk is currently on tour with the Lions in Australia - they face the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday - and will arrive back in the country on Sunday.
Rudolf Straeuli, CEO of the Lions Rugby Company, also commented on the matter.
“Negotiations are under way and I have not signed anything regarding the offer to De Klerk. The team is focused on their third game on tour and an official announcement will only be made once they are back.”
The Sale Sharks, meanwhile, are confident of having secured De Klerk’s services and announced the news via their official website on Monday.
"I am made up that Faf has decided to join us next season," Sale’s director of rugby, Steve Diamond said.
"He is tenacious with a fantastic work rate - he dictates the tempo and direction of the game and I think he will fit in well both with our style of play, and with a young, ambitious squad.
"He's an unbelievable ball-carrier, has a solid kicking game and he is exciting around the pitch. He sees the weakness in his opposition and can leverage this to his advantage. He's young but has massive experience and this will be crucial in helping us to build on the foundations we have put in place this year."