Head to Head: Debating Du Toit’s decision

CRAIG LEWIS and WADE PRETORIUS debate Pieter-Steph Du Toit’s decision to stay with the Stormers when a big-money move abroad was on the table.

READ: Du Toit, Marx contract cases still under review

Craig: Du Toit saw the bigger picture

For all those who followed the Du Toit saga, you can rest assured PSDT himself would have been frustrated to be caught in the middle of it all.

It’s important to remember the players didn’t ask for the 21-day exit window. As I understand it, this was a unique clause first broached in meeting with the player agents, and ultimately a three-week ‘compromise’ of sorts was signed off in a collective agreement.

Before any of this, Du Toit was just focused on his recovery from a career-threatening injury, and making the most of some time on the family farm in Riebeek-Kasteel.

Almost inevitably, though, the World Rugby Player of the Year became the unwitting central figure in the SA rugby industry ‘transfer deadline’ story due to the fact he is one of the most sought-after players in the game.

Suddenly there was so much more to think about as the option to exit SA and the Stormers was tabled, but from almost all I’ve heard is that his overwhelming first intention was to stay.

Yes, the waters got muddied as certain amendments and ‘sweeteners’ were explored for his next contract but, again, he had his reasons to recommit to the Stormers, and eventually this was the action taken.

Du Toit’s value has surely never been higher and he could have opted to head abroad for big bucks, and yet it’s clear he saw the bigger picture. Almost quite literally.

By separating his image rights from his salary terms, PSDT has seized control over another revenue stream, and found the means to ensure he could justify his desire to remain in South Africa until at least the end of the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour.

At the end of the day, Du Toit is happy where he is right now, and in a year or so you can rest assured there will still be plenty of options for him to explore should he fancy an overseas stint for a couple of seasons in the buildup to the 2023 World Cup.

READ: Du Toit commits to WP

Wade: He should’ve cashed in

Personally I’m relieved that this transfer saga is over … and that rugby doesn’t have a football-style transfer window. It was a chaotic affair with mixed messages and even reliable information seemingly being tossed to the side every day. In the end, the biggest talking point – will Pieter-Steph be staying or going – was clouded in doubt and confusing statements. That said, he’s staying and I’m debating that it was the wrong move.

By all accounts, he’s a proper servant to those he cares about – his family and friends and his employers. But factoring in both his near career-ending injury and the modern economic climate, it seems utterly bizarre he wouldn’t set himself up with three years in France. Or England. Or Japan.

R75 million for three years makes sense. And with the rand’s market ‘strength’ it appears that sum would be vastly higher when he returns home to sip on the Kloovenburg wines. Then throw in the fact that he had to take the same salary cut as the rest of his colleagues. Will owning his image rights offset that? Doubt it.

Leaving wouldn’t have tainted his legacy in South Africa nor harmed his chances of adding even more ‘oomph’ to his rising status as a Bok phenom. He would still line up as a kingpin in Jacques Nienaber’s XV to face the British & Irish Lions in 2021. We’ve seen enough from those playing and/or returning abroad to argue that a stint abroad only serves to improve them as players.

He has never been more marketable than he is right now. The world’s best player and one of only three to win the SA Rugby Player of the Year award three times. I may run into some trouble by saying this, but there’s nothing to suggest he will win Vodacom Super Rugby with the Cape franchise – which could be a player’s only on-field reason for staying.

There are, after all, 75-million reasons in the pros section of his own ‘pros and cons’ list for taking up the biggest deal rugby has seen. He earned it the hard way and we know sport can be cruel; we cannot predict his value in a year’s time and it could be said it’s 50-50 at best that he gets a deal on par with the one reportedly offered.

If he helps lead the Stormers to next year’s Super Rugby title, I will ask my local grocer to bake me a humble pie. Sure, he doesn’t really need all that money. I don’t know about his finances but it would be safe to assume that one day when he retires, he’ll do so safe in the comforts he’s earned on the field along the way.

But, back to football terms. Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t content to stay at Manchester United and made the leap to go head to head with Lionel Messi in LaLiga. And then as the clock wound down, he again made the bold move to move to Italy. My gut says PSDT would’ve benefited both financially and skill-wise from a season or three abroad.

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