Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth has been allowed to leave Toulon after this season and is reportedly in the final stages of negotiations with the Sharks.
A statement from Toulon confirmed the news citing personal reasons as the motivation for the decision.
Agreement reach for departure
The club said: “Eben Etzebeth has expressed his desire to put an early end to the contract binding him to Toulonnais in order to return, for personal reasons, to South Africa. Aware of the difficulties encountered by the player, the club took note of this request and accepted it.”
Etzebeth gave a statement confirming his motivation to leave but promised fans he would play hard for the remaining time at the club.
“I am sad to have to leave Toulon and my teammates at the end of the season but personal reasons force me to do so. Toulon and its supporters welcomed me … I will give everything for this team until the end of the season to help Toulon perform, move up the standings and to be contenders in the Challenge Cup,” it read.
The news comes after Etzebeth returned to the field after a three-month break enforced by mandatory concussion protocols as the lock sustained three concussions in the space of a year.
Toulon’s outspoken president Bernard Lemaitre said Etzebeth was a “handicap” to the club, earlier this year, due to the Springbok often being unavailable due to international duty and injury.
The Sharks have been monitoring Etzebeth’s situation and would love to add the Springbok to their blockbuster squad.
“His stuff is still a little complicated. We are looking at lock. We would love to get him, but he is on a big contract so he’ll have to get out of his contract and be prepared to take a substantial salary cut,” Sharks boss Eduard Coetzee told Times live.
“I think Eben might get out. We are discussing this with his representatives and we are trying to push this to an end.”