Sale Sharks have raided South Africa for another highly-rated forward, signing Cobus Wiese from the Stormers after he opted out of joining Saracens following their automatic relegation from the Gallagher Premiership for breaching salary cap rules.

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The 22-year-old, who can play lock or flanker, will join fellow South Africans Jono Ross, Faf de Klerk, Lood de Jager, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Akker van der Merwe, Coenie Oosthuizen and Rob, Dan and Jean-Luc du Preez at the Manchester club.

Wiese has benefitted from the implementation by South African rugby of an immediate escape clause in his Stormers contract in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the termination window running from April 24 until May 14.

Steve Diamond’s Sale has become a home away from home for a large contingent of South African players, their form helping to propel the club into second place in the Gallagher Premiership and into the Premiership Cup final before the season was indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

World Cup winner Faf de Klerk is proud of how all the South Africans have bedded in at Sale, telling RugbyPass: “It’s nearly three years since I arrived here and it’s a new country and you need to get used to things. 

“I had good guys to make sure I was coping with things, and myself and Jono (the captain) have tried to do that for the South African guys coming in. 

“We needed to make sure of that because we are such a large South African group. We didn’t speak Afrikaans all the time and didn’t make people feel shut out. We have had enough socials now. Everyone is getting along well and there is a lot of respect.”

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While disappointed to have lost Wiese to English rugby, Stormers coach John Dobson will be delighted to have kept Pieter-Steph du Toit, the World Rugby player of the year, amid fears that South Africa could become like Fiji with all its best players operating outside the country.

“My concern is that if this clause was to carry to its potential worst side that we could become like a Fiji with the majority of our professional players overseas,” he said in an interview with iol.co.za. 

“Whether you have got an investor or a very generous sponsor to come and pick on those players, clubs that come and pick on those players think, ‘Oh, South Africa has got really bad Covid, the rand’s gone to rubbish, they have downed their salaries by about 40 per cent and we have got a very generous investor who wants to go help himself to the world player of the year’. To me, that’s against the spirit of what we need to be in this period.”

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