Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit has confirmed his departure from the Sharks at the end of his contract, which expires in October 2015.
Having made his debut for the Sharks in 2012, Du Toit, with his strong physicality and presence, has become an influential player for the franchise with strong performances that earned him Springbok colours in 2013.
Last month it was reported that Du Toit is heading to Cape Town where he will further his career at the Stormers.
Commenting on his departure, the Sharks CEO John Smit said: “We are terribly disappointed to lose a player of the calibre of Pieter-Steph du Toit. Despite our best efforts to keep him in the province, he has chosen to move on.
"He was scouted and signed by the franchise whilst still in school and ever since his arrival in Durban, he has emerged as a stand-out performer. Sadly, he suffered two serious injuries, which saw his 2014 and 2015 seasons being curtailed prematurely.
"Our medical team has invested immense time and effort into Pieter-Steph’s rehabilitation and recovery process and we are saddened to lose him, but I guess we cannot hold the player back if he has made up his mind."
Du Toit thanked the Sharks for the unconditional support the province has always given him during times of fitness and especially injury.
"This was the hardest decision of my life," he said.
"The Sharks have always been good to me and if it was not for what the province has done for me I would never have been able to achieve from rugby what I have to date.
"For this, I will be forever grateful. My decision is one that has a specific focus now already for my life after rugby and also my family.
"Thank you to every Sharks employee and fan for the privilege I have had to be part of your family. All of you will always remain dear to me."
Smit concluded: "On behalf of The Sharks, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Pieter-Steph for his contribution to Sharks rugby and wish him the very best in his playing career moving forward."