CEO Eduard Coetzee says signing Eben Etzebeth on a long-term contract is in line with the Sharks’ plan to become the world’s premier club.
Etzebeth will join up with the Sharks in July and has been signed on a long-term contract until 2027.
Following other major international signings over the past two years, Etzebeth will join the likes of Bok captain Siya Kolisi, hooker Bongi Mbonambi and prop Ox Nche in the squad.
“Attracting a player of Etzebeth’s calibre underlines the importance the Sharks place on building a winning squad, which is aligned to the vision of being the biggest franchise in world rugby,” said Coetzee.
“We’re also focused on building a strong group of players for a number of years, not just the immediate future and Eben’s long-term contract reflects this.
“We want to create a winning culture here at the Sharks across the board and, from a team perspective, bringing players who have achieved at the highest level helps in our goal of achieving this.”
The 30-year-old, nearing 100 Test matches for the Springboks in a decade-long international career, including 13 in World Cups, will bolster a Sharks pack. His physicality and bruising nature, so important in the second row, will no doubt add to the heights the forwards are striving to achieve.
“These are exciting times,” the 122kg, 2.03m lock said from France.
“I’m looking forward to coming to the Sharks and living in Durban and I expect this to be a wonderful chapter in my career.”
He admits that returning to South Africa after spending a few years overseas was a big motivation.
“Family and being closer to home was a big motivating factor, as well as being able to represent a great team like the Sharks.
“I can see things are happening there, Siya [Kolisi] is there and we’ve been friends since were in the provincial U19s together and now we will get to play for the Sharks together. Along with my Springbok teammates Bongi Mbonambi, Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, Thomas du Toit, all guys I know well. I’m also really excited to meet a few new guys.”
He added that playing home games at Kings Park also excites him.
“I’m looking forward to playing at The Shark Tank, the local derbies against the Bulls, Stormers and Lions will be awesome. I’m looking forward to being back in South Africa and playing in front of the Sharks fans there.”
While the Sharks make no secret of their excitement to announce this major acquisition, it appears to be a two-way street and Etzebeth admitted that he was just as excited to play in Durban. He explained that he did his homework on the team that was courting him, speaking to some of the players here already.
“I chatted to Siya, I gave Thomas a call and chatted to them. Off the field, things work, on the field we can see things are working and the team is doing well, I enjoyed watching the last game against the Bulls and the victory away from home and this is a brand I definitely want to be associated with and which I’m proud to be joining.”
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