‘No final decision on Pieter-Steph yet’

Stormers coach John Dobson says Pieter-Steph du Toit’s future with the team is still unclear as he has not signed anything yet. DYLAN JACK reports.

Du Toit made his long-awaited return to action for the Stormers in the Rainbow Cup SA after well over a year on the sidelines due to injury.

The 28-year-old World Cup winner has looked in fine fettle, completing three 80-minute performances and scoring an excellent try against the Sharks in Durban this past weekend.

However, reports in the country have linked Du Toit with a move away from the Cape franchise. Du Toit was initially set to sign a deal with Munster, but the high-profile move was blocked by the Irish Rugby Football Union. It is now believed he has an offer from Japan Top League side Toyota Verblitz, where Springbok teammate Willie le Roux plies his trade.

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During a wide-ranging media conference on Tuesday, Dobson gave an update on the negotiations with Du Toit, saying that the flanker has yet to make a decision about his future.

‘With regard to Pieter-Steph, we have been talking to him through the whole year,’ Dobson said. ‘As I indicated in an earlier press conference, he first wanted to get back on to the field and see if he could play again. I think he has answered that question.

‘We have been in conversation with his agent this whole time. He hasn’t made a decision yet. He hasn’t signed anywhere else overseas at the moment. We will keep chatting with him.

‘We have got two scenarios in our budget. One is with Pieter-Steph staying and the other is that he is going. One must also be realistic that a World Player of the Year coming on to the market could involve sums – whether that’s in euro or yen – that no South African franchise could stand in the way of, nor would want to.’

Dobson did hint that Du Toit could opt for a dual deal, the likes of with which the Sharks retained the services of Bok wing Makazole Mapimpi, while also allowing him to take up a lucrative contract in Japan.

‘He has got ever-growing business interests in the Western Cape. I know he doesn’t want to be too far from those. Whether he goes now, whether he stays or whether he goes for a short while and comes back to us. We know he is really enjoying his rugby here, you can see it in how he is playing, in the smiles after the try [against the Sharks].

‘There is no final decision on Pieter-Steph yet, but we are very open-minded. He is saying that he needs to know if he can play international rugby. He has promised to communicate with us should he get to the point where he is considering signing in Japan or somewhere like that.

‘He’s a big player who we haven’t said yay or nay to. You don’t really want to say no to Pieter-Steph du Toit should he want to stay here. He is a big part of this team and region.’

Dobson added that Western Province Rugby could never match some of the offers that Du Toit is getting overseas and that if he stayed, it would be because of the growing business interests he has in the Western Cape.

‘I’m afraid if we tried to match what Pieter-Steph could be getting overseas … we have heard some of the figures, it’s virtually a third of the salary cap on one player. We wouldn’t compete with that. If he stayed here, it would be because he wants to be close to his family, he enjoys playing for this franchise and he has some business interests here. It’s a personal decision.’

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Photo: Thinus Maritz/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack