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Ken Borland

Gauteng may be the financial capital but Durban is becoming the rugby capital

Posted on March 28, 2022 by Ken

Gauteng may be the financial capital of South Africa but Durban is rapidly becoming the rugby capital as the Sharks confirmed the mega-signing of Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth on Thursday, on a long-term deal that will keep him at Kings Park from July until 2027.

Thanks to the cash cow that is their equity partners, Etzebeth will move from being one of the highest-paid players in France while he was with Toulon, to one of the highest earning players in South Africa, as befits a veteran of 97 Tests and a perennial contender for any World XV. Although the Sharks cannot come close to matching the reported R20 million a year Toulon were paying him, Durban offers other perks in terms of lifestyle and networking with the range of leading businesspeople who have invested in the franchise.

A happy Etzebeth will mean the Sharks’ tight five will be getting a considerable boost.

“I’m looking forward to coming to the Sharks and living in Durban, and I expect this to be a wonderful chapter in my career,” Etzebeth said in a statement released by the Sharks on Thursday.
“Family and being closer to home was a big motivating factor, as well as being able to represent a great team like the Sharks. I can see things are happening there.

“Siya Kolisi is there and we’ve been friends since were in the provincial U19s together and now we will get to play for the Sharks together.

“Along with my Springbok team-mates Bongi Mbonambi, Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, Thomas du Toit, all guys I know well. I’m also really excited to meet a few new guys,” Etzebeth said.

The 30-year-old admitted to being impressed with what the Sharks have managed to build so far.
“I’m looking forward to playing at the Shark Tank, the local derbies against the Bulls, Stormers and Lions will be awesome,” Etzebeth said. “I’m looking forward to being back in South Africa and playing in front of the Sharks fans there.”
“I chatted to Siya, I gave Thomas a call and chatted to them. Off the field things work, on the field we can see things are working and the team is doing well.

“I enjoyed watching the last game against the Bulls and the victory away from home, and this is a brand I definitely want to be associated with and which I’m proud to be joining,” Etzebeth said. “Attracting a player of Etzebeth’s calibre underlines the importance the Sharks place on building a winning squad, which is aligned to the vision of being the biggest franchise in world rugby,” said CEO Eduard Coetzee.
“We’re also focused on building a strong group of players for a number of years, not just the immediate future, and Eben’s long-term contract reflects this.”

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