Tuesday, July 07, 2020
   
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Stormers 'confident' of holding onto Du Toit, star Boks

Stormers coach John Dobson has expressed confidence that the franchise will hold onto its big-name players in the coming days, including 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year, Pieter-Steph du Toit. 

There has been sudden interest from overseas clubs in South African players and it stems from a 21-day window that was agreed upon by the SA Rugby Industry, MyPlayers and the South African Rugby Employers' Organisation (Sareo) last month in which all professional players were given three weeks - until 14 May - to get out of their current contracts with their respective unions and sign on the dotted line with those big-spending UK, France and Japanese clubs in particular.

There was particular interest - predictably - in Du Toit from a host of suitors.

Dobson has since spoken to Du Toit and other players at the Stormers, and while the franchise is legally not allowed to negotiate finances with the players during the three-week window under the stipulations of the clause, he said on Tuesday that he expected no movement between now and Thursday. 

"There are no real developments and I'm confident that everybody is going to stay," said Dobson.

"I've not had any indication of anyone wanting to leave ... my feeling is that everybody is staying.

"I know that the big concern is the night of the 13th (of May) and it feels like rugby has turned into a football-like transfer deadline situation, which is unusual.

"I've talked to a lot of their players and to a lot of their agents."

Dobson added that any last-gasp decisions from players to leave the Stormers over the next two days would not go down well. 

"If a player wants to ring up on the 13th and say that he's leaving, he would be making a massive breach of the rugby trust within the squad and what we're trying to build," he said. 

"He wouldn't be leaving with his reputation intact if he was to take it right to the wire and not even leave us with a chance to have a conversation.

"The other element is that rugby is meant to be a sport of high fair play and fraternity and I think that anybody feasting on the carcasses of others trying to adapt to this virus is, to my mind, it's exploitation.

"You've got a team at the bottom of Africa with certain constraints placed on them in terms of salary reductions ... that's a concern for me. Where this clause carried to its potential worst side, then we would become like a Fiji with the vast majority of our top players overseas.

"I think it's against the spirit of rugby."

With South Africa still in level 4 of a nationwide lockdown as the fight against the global coronavirus crisis continues, it is uncertain when the country's professional teams will be back on the field. 

Until then, players and staff across the country will be receiving pay cuts.  

The Stormers have a large chunk of 2019 World Cup-winning Springboks on their books including Du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Damian Willemse, Herschel Jantjies, Bongi Mbonambi and Steven Kitshoff. 

 

Sport24 

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