Big-name Boks set to recommit to Stormers

There is set to be some good news for WP Rugby as World Cup-winning Springboks such as Bongi Mbonambi, Damian Willemse, Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe are all poised to extend their contracts. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

On the eve of the Stormers’ opening clash in SA Rugby’s preparation series, there has been some encouraging developments behind the scenes.

Despite a number of leading players being linked with interested suitors both locally and abroad, understands that important progress has been made in securing contract extensions with several top Boks.

Mbonambi, for example, was rumoured to be on the radar of both the Vodacom Bulls and Sharks, as well as a top overseas club, but he will be remaining in Cape Town for the next three years.

Kitshoff – who has established himself as the leading loosehead prop in South Africa – was also understandably in high demand along with fellow Word Cup-winning front rower Frans Malherbe, but both will continue to anchor the WP scrum.

And, in another boost to the front-row stocks, 30-year-old Scarra Ntubeni is among the group set to extend their contracts.

It’s also significant that Willemse will be remaining in Cape Town despite some strong suggestions that he could be heading to the Vodacom Bulls.

The 22-year-old is one of the most highly regarded young backs in South African rugby, capable of slotting in at flyhalf or fullback.

All of these signing extensions will be seen as hugely encouraging for coach John Dobson, who has worked extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure such players see a bright future with the Stormers.

It’s also a considerable boost in terms of stabilising the status of the professional arm of the franchise, particularly as some talk suggested there could be a host of players who could follow in the (departing) footsteps of Siya Kolisi due to the off-field problems that have plagued the union’s amateur arm.

The only new departures now seem to potentially include lock JD Schickerling, but it’s expected that he will still see his contract through to the end of October before taking up a big-money offer from Japan.

Meanwhile, there is still no finality on the future of Juarno Augustus, although it’s understood that some reports suggesting his move to the Northampton Saints is a done deal are a bit far-fetched.

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Craig Lewis