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Toulon statement: Eben Etzebeth to be released

By Rugby365
(Photo by Gaizka Iroz/AFP via Getty Images)

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Toulon announced that Springbok superstar Eben Etzebeth will be leaving the club at the end of the current season.

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According to a statement on the club’s website, Etzebeth will be released early from his contract to return to South Africa for personal reasons.

“Aware of the difficulties encountered by the player, Toulon took note of this request and accepted it,” said the club.

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In the statement, Etzebeth said: “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 have the will to give everything with this team until the end of the season, to allow Toulon to perform, to move up in the standings and to be ambitious in the Challenge Cup.”

In an interview with TimesLive, Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee said they are looking to sign Etzebeth but admitted things are “a little complicated” when it comes to the 30-year-old.

“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,” Coetzee told TimesLive.

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“Jeepers, his salary at Toulon is almost a third of the salary cap in SA.

“I think Eben might get out. We are discussing this with his representatives and we are trying to push this to an end.

“We have to stay within our means. We can’t put things at risk because of an emotional decision. It depends how badly he wants to come back to SA. I think he is contracted until the Rugby World Cup.”

In January, Toulon president Bernard Lemaître labelled Etzebeth as a ‘handicap’ due to the lock being expensive and often unavailable through injury and international commitments.

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In an interview with the newspaper Var-matin, Lemaître addressed Toulon’s issues regarding player recruitment ahead of the 2022/2023 season and took aim at Etzebeth.

“There is a double problem in recruiting: the salary cap and the JIFFs [French-reared players],” Lemaître said at the time.

“You can’t do just anything, so I pay special attention to the situation of internationals because they can be an opportunity or a handicap.

“In this case, players like Eben Etzebeth and Facundo Isa are a clear handicap for the club.”

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