Super Rugby

EXCLUSIVE | Makazole Mapimpi happy with how contract negotiations panned out

Makazole Mapimpi (Getty Images)
Makazole Mapimpi (Getty Images)
  • Springbok star Makazole Mapimpi's new Sharks contract allows the winger a Japan foray from this September to next April, to boost his earning potential.
  • Mapimpi initially rejected a R9 million net offer from Johan Ackermann's NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes but will join them on loan instead.
  • Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee's deft handling of the 21-day transfer mayhem kept 2019 RWC stars at Kings Park, including Mapimpi.

One of the most talked about players during the 21-day "transfer window", Makazole Mapimpi, said he was happy with how contract negotiations turned out after a big money offer from Japan came in for his services.

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The Springbok World Cup-winner turned down a one-year contract to play for NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, believed to be worth over R9 million in net value.

Instead, he penned a new Sharks deal until 2023 that would allow him to take up a Japanese sabbatical at Johan Ackermann’s Docomo between September this year to next April.

The new deal means that Mapimpi, 29, will be able to cash in on his value while still in his prime, enjoy some security with the Sharks and remain well within the Springbok radar for next year’s British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

"It's a good opportunity for me," Mapimpi told Sport24.

"I am very happy with how things moved and the opportunity the Sharks gave me to go and experience rugby elsewhere and to experience the Japanese rugby culture.

"Of course, any player wants to go overseas and boost their playing income, as you’ve seen with a lot of Springbok players that have left and others who left recently."

Opinion was split on whether Mapimpi rejecting the Docomo offer, which sought to take advantage of the SA Rugby Industry Strategic Plan 21-day escape clause, was a smart move. But the player was unshaken.

Mapimpi, who turns 30 in July, said he steadfastly trusted himself to make the best decision for his future and didn't rely on public opinion or let it sway his decision-making.

"I trust myself to make the best decision and I try not to let people get into my head too much," he said.

"People have something to say whether you do something wrong or right, so I have to trust my own instincts in whatever decision I make and then I have to back it up afterwards.

"I have one or two people close to me that advise me on such things but I also have to see the bigger picture in terms of what’s going on inside the rugby system.

"A lot of people don’t know what happens on the inside and they just see the newspaper headlines or what's written on Sport24; they don't really have the full picture."

Key to the negotiations was Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee, who has not only brought a culture of openness through the Kings Park corridors but has added an oft-missing human touch to professional contracting.

Coetzee's management style and adroit handling of the transfer window mayhem cushioned what could have been a fatal blow to the promising project sprouting in Durban.

No less than 10 players received overseas offers but they came through relatively unscathed after losing just Tyler Paul, who took up an offer in Japan.

Coetzee's understanding of Mapimpi's needs, background and cultural influences meant the best outcome for the organisation and player was achieved.

Mapimpi said: "Ed and I came to a good agreement. The original Japanese offer was for one year but I couldn’t just leave for a year without knowing what’s going to happen afterwards.

"I'm not saying I don’t trust myself to perform or find a new home but I can’t leave a place where I was well taken care of just because I see bigger offers elsewhere.

"I had to sit down and talk with the relevant people and they gave me a chance to quickly go over there and make a little money for myself.

"I broke through pretty late into the system; I only started playing Super Rugby at 27 in 2017.

"This is a chance for me to boost my income potential in a short space of time, considering my age as well."

The cherry on top for both player and country is the looming British and Irish Lions tour, which could be played either in July next year or later in 2021. Mapimpi weighed up his chances of making that historic side before deciding to extend his Sharks stay, avec the Japan sabbatical.

"Of course, I still want to play for the Springboks," he said.

"It will depend on the coaches, obviously, but I feel like I could still make it to the Bok squad for the British and Irish Lions tour.

"I have hope that I’ll be part of it because there are a lot of overseas-based players that will also be in consideration for Springbok selection for that tour. "It’s the most epic goal of mine now because it only comes once every 12 years."

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