Willemse accepts ‘massive offer’

Lock Paul Willemse will leave the Bulls after the Currie Cup season and move to France.

The Bulls have confirmed that the 22-year old, who has been a feature during their Super Rugby campaign, has signed a two-year deal with French Top 14 side Grenoble.

Xander Janse van Rensburg, the Bulls' high performance manager, says it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold onto local talent in the face of lucrative overseas offers.

'We tried our utmost best to retain the services of Paul. It is, however, very concerning that we are losing players at a younger and younger age to the overseas market,' said Janse van Rensburg.

'In Paul's case, we are talking about a massive offer to the player and one that is very hard to say no to. We certainly cannot blame Paul for accepting such a lucrative offer, but even if we wanted to, we could not match it as this is one of the biggest offers I have seen for a player of his age.'

Willemse will likely form an all-South African second row alongside former Sharks and Stormers lock Ross Skeate at Grenoble. Janse van Rensburg hopes that he will return a stronger, more rounded player.

'Paul feels that he is not currently in the mix for Springbok selection and has a number of locks ahead of him in the line-up, so he wants to add a different element to his game by playing in the French Top 14. Game time in France will see him improve as a player and we can reap the benefits of that upon his return,' added Janse van Rensburg.

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images