REPORT: Pieter Steph du Toit to exit SA for Japan
World Player of the Year Pieter Steph du Toit is set to cash in with a stint in Japan, according to reports coming out of South Africa.
The back row is apparently on the verge of signing a two-year deal to play for Toyota Verblitz in the Japanese Top League – a team that already boasts Kieran Read, Michael Hooper and Willie Le Roux on their books.
A blindside who is equally adept at playing lock, Du Toit had been linked with a number of clubs in both the Top 14 and Gallagher Premiership in 2020, but it seems now that he has plumped for the well-traveled and lucrative route between South Africa and Japan, a path which has been favoured by a number of high profile Springboks in recent years.
Fellow Boks Duane Vermuelen, Eben Etzebeth, Kwagga Smith, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Malcolm Marx, Jesse Kriel and Makazole Mapimpi have all enjoyed stints in the league since the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
According to Rapport, the deal could be done by the end of the week. Du Toit has been sans combat for some time with a serious leg injury, which at one point doctors feared could lead to a leg amputation.
Du Toit was named the World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year 2019, becoming the first Springbok recipient since Bryan Habana in 2007 and third overall.
He received the award ahead of five other nominees in Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, England flanker Tom Curry, New Zealand flanker Ardie Savea, South Africa team-mate Cheslin Kolbe and USA hooker Joe Taufete’e.
A linchpin in the South African pack, Du Toit has started nine of the Springboks’ 11 tests in 2019. The 6’6, 28-year-old may have flitted between second-row and flanker in the early days of his international career, but he has made the No.7 jersey his own over the last two years and his work-rate and versatility mean he is one of the first names down on Rassie Erasmus’ team sheet.
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