Super Rugby

Springbok speedster Makazole Mapimpi heading to Japan ... but only on short-term sabbatical

Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am (Getty Images)
Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am (Getty Images)
  • Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee did a good job persuading star Springbok Makazole Mapimpi to stay in Durban.
  • It has been revealed that the winger will be allowed a sabbatical in Japan.
  • Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am could also be allowed a stint in Japan at some stage.

The Sharks had to box clever to hold on to the services of star Springbok wing Makazole Mapimpi.

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Sharks fans were pleased to learn last month that Mapimpi, as well as Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am, had opted to stay in Durban after the star duo were linked with moves abroad.

Rapport newspaper revealed on Sunday that Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee gave his blessing for Mapimpi to play for the Johan Ackermann-coached NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes in Japan for a six-month period between September 2020 and April 2021.

The 29-year-old will then return to the Sharks, where he has signed a contract until 2023.

How much rugby Mapimpi would've played for the Sharks during that period remains to be seen. The 2021 Super Rugby tournament - if there is even one - remains to be seen. Should it start in January next year - as was the case this season - Mapimpi will miss a number of rounds of action.

The Sharks would've weighed up the pros and cons of having their fleet-footed speedster miss a couple of weekends versus a couple of years before agreeing to the short-term sabbatical.

Mapimpi could have terminated his Sharks contract to take up an overseas deal during the recent 21-day 'transfer window', which was part of a salary cut agreement for South Africa's professional rugby players.

Am, meanwhile, could take a similar sabbatical in future, though it is understood that the Sharks would want to avoid having him and Mapimpi away at the same time.

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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