The Sharks have officially confirmed the departure of Springbok forwards Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis as well as Willem Alberts, who will be playing their final match for the team on Saturday.
All three are believed to be heading to France with the Du Plessis brothers expected to be reunited with Jake White at Montpellier while a leading French agent has claimed that Alberts "has already signed at Stade Français."
Bismarck’s du Plessis career at the Sharks is now in its 11th year, having made his senior rugby debut when he joined the Durban franchise in 2005. To date he is the most capped Sharks player ever at Super Rugby level, with 129 appearances. He has also accumulated 39 Currie Cup caps, the number reflective of his Springbok duties where he has represented South Africa 70 times.
Jannie joined The Sharks in 2008 after representing the Cheetahs between 2004 and 2007. He has appeared 117 times for the Sharks at Super Rugby level and has 62 Test match appearances behind him.
They both played in two Rugby World Cups – in 2007 and 2011 – and together share the record (42) for most Springbok Tests as brothers.
Alberts made his debut for the Sharks in 2010 after moving to Durban from the Lions and has accumulated a total of 91 appearances (72 in Vodacom Super Rugby and 19 in the Currie Cup competition) as well as 32 Springbok caps.
These three players have been an influential and valued part of the Sharks set-up and despite the management’s best efforts; they have been unable to re-secure their services moving forward.
"These three gents have played an instrumental and invaluable role at The Sharks over the years," said Sharks CEO John Smit.
"It is naturally disappointing to lose these calibre of players that have given so much to Sharks rugby. As in many senior statesmen’s careers they felt the time was right to experience something different abroad.
"We will never forget the many courageous performances from these three players, the countless outstanding performances and steals from Bissy, the rock solid anchor at tighthead in Jannie and the enforcer in Willem. Not to mention Jannie playing the victorious Currie Cup Final in 2013 with a broken hand."
"On behalf of The Sharks I take this opportunity to thank them for their dedication, commitment and outstanding contribution to the franchise. We wish them and their families the very best for this new chapter they are embarking on."