The Sharks confirmed a major coup on Thursday with Springbok’s second-row signing Eben Etzebeth, who will join the Toulon franchise once the French season ends.
Etzebeth, who will head to the coast in July this year, signed a long-term contract until 2027.
While the move was hardly the best kept secret in South African rugby, the Sharks said they were delighted to close the deal.
“Adding a player of Etzebeth’s caliber underlines the importance the Sharks place on building a winning squad that aligns with their vision of being the greatest franchise in the world of rugby,” said Sharks CEO Ed Coetzee.
“We are also focused on building a strong player base for a number of years, not just for the foreseeable future, and Eben’s long-term contract reflects this.
“We want to create a winning culture across the board here at the Sharks, and from a team perspective it helps to have players who have performed at the highest level in our goal of achieving this.”
Approaching nearly 100 exhibition matches for the Springboks in a ten-year international career, 30-year-old Etzebeth will bolster the Sharks pack, and his physicality and bruises will no doubt contribute to the heights the attackers are aiming for.
“These are exciting times,” said Etzebeth from his base in France.
“I am looking forward to coming to the Sharks and living in Durban and I expect this to be a wonderful chapter in my career.”
He admits it was a big motivation to return to South Africa after spending a few years abroad.
“I also see things happening there. Siya (Kolisi) is there and we’ve been friends since we were in the Provincial Under-19s together, and now we’re going to play for the Sharks together.
“Along with my Springbok teammates Bongi Mbonambi, Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, Thomas du Toit, all guys I know well, I’m also really excited to meet some new guys.”