John Dobson has revealed that Warrick Gelant is in “advanced talks” with a French club, but says the Springbok fullback remains highly motivated to get the Stormers through the Vodacom United Rugby Championship playoffs. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Stormers will reportedly lose Gelant to Racing 92 at the end of the current season in June.
SARugbymag.co.za understands that the Parisian club offered him a salary in the region of €450,000 (R7.7 million) per season.
The 27-year-old has been at the heart of the creative hub for the Stormers this season, with particularly influential performances against the Vodacom Bulls, Sharks and the Glasgow Warriors.
Combining with flyhalf Manie Libbok and centre Damian Willemse, Gelant has helped the Stormers secure a URC playoff place as well as a spot in Europe next season.
Speaking ahead of the Stormers’ crucial final-round URC clash against the Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday, Dobson hailed Gelant’s impact, while also confirming that the deal with Racing 92 looks set to go ahead.
“Warrick’s had a great season. We missed him early in the season with his injuries,” said Dobson. “He has just the most sophisticated kicking game. If you play him with Damian Willemse and Manie Libbok, it’s really hard for the opposition to cover backfield. There is much more to Warrick than just the crazy offloads. He is really professional.
“I know he is in advanced talks with a team in France. We won’t stay in his way. We’ve got plans if that comes off, we have some really good plans around that. Warrick has a lot of responsibilities off the field. If going to France takes less pressure on him, given his service for us, he will go with our blessing.
“I don’t expect Warrick to be back here next season. If he is, then that’s fantastic. If he isn’t, then as I say we have some plans. He has done a great job for us. It’s the reality of professional sport. He came here, his career was stalling for various reasons, we have had a very good two years with him. I wish him well, if it’s going to help change his life. He is keeping us up to date and he looks very likely to be in France next season.”
Despite the deal being all but confirmed, Dobson said Gelant would be even more motivated as the Stormers look to secure a home quarter-final on Saturday.
“One thing about Warrick, he is a consummate professional. He has a real passion to leave on the biggest high that he can. Warrick is sort of a quiet guy, but now he is almost a bit emotional in a good way, because of how important this is to him. I know he wants end here as far in the competition as he can, which gives me quite a bit of excitement.”
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