Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad has had his say following recent speculation linking both Pieter-Steph du Toit, the 2019 World Rugby player of the year, and Israel Folau, the controversial ex-Australian international, with moves to his French Top 14 club. 

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Springboks World Cup winner du Toit had submitted a contract termination notice to the Stormers before the May 14 deadline for South Africa Rugby’s industry salary plan (ISP) to deal with the repercussions of Covid-19. However,  rather than join Montpellier, as was alleged possible, he has since opted to stay with the Super Rugby franchise until at least after next year’s British and Irish Lions tour.

Meanwhile, Folau was last week also linked with a Montpellier switch only for the ex-Wallaby to instead agree to a contract extension with Super League side Catalan Dragons, the French rugby league club that offered him a way back into professional sport after he had his contract with Rugby Australia terminated. 

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Addressing the alleged connections between Montpellier and both players, Altrad spoke to Midi Olympique and revealed he definitely is interested in one of these two household rugby names.  

“Great talents inspire me, whether in sports or elsewhere,” he said when quizzed about du Toit. “Du Toit interests me. But so far, I have had no contact with him. And now is not the time to talk about recruitment…”

SA Rugby magazine had reported that du Toit was lined up for a €1.2million-a-year switch to Montpellier, a rumour the club quickly issued a media release to deny. However, Midi Olympique now claim that there is potential for du Toit to make this move in 2021 and still earn more than €1m-a-year.  

As for Folau, he reportedly became subject to an offer to move to Montpellier where Philippe Saint-Andre, the 2015 France World Cup coach, has recently taken charge following Vern Cotter’s departure. The 31-year-old, though, instead opted to stick with the Dragons in the 13-a-side rugby code. 

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“Between him [Folau] and the MHR, negotiations lasted two months,” said Altrad, who believes Montpellier were used to raise the stakes in the player’s talks elsewhere. “Folau, he wanted to speak to me on the phone; I took the time for him. And we finished like that.”

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