Despite admitting that he’s had no communication with Springbok coach Allister Coetzee, Faf de Klerk maintains he isn’t leaving South African rugby over the uncertainty of his international future.
The Lions on Thursday finally confirmed that the 25-year-old scrumhalf will be joining England’s Sale Sharks after this year’s Super Rugby campaign.
It’s almost two weeks after Sale announced the move.
De Klerk was considered Coetzee’s first choice halfback last year, appearing in 11 Tests, but hasn’t been called up for the last two national training camps.
“My absence from the camps didn’t influence my decision,” said the scrumhalf, who’s rumoured to have been offered R21 million over three years.
“That’s Allister and Saru’s decision. I don’t have any say in that and that’s why it didn’t influence me much.”
Instead, Saru’s new rule that prevents overseas-based players for the Boks unless they have 30 or more caps was a far bigger factor in weighing his options.
“I’ll admit that was a difficult one for me because it means I won’t play Test rugby for a while,” said De Klerk.
“But it’s just such a great opportunity for me at this stage of my career. I can easily come back again and still be able to play in South Africa without being too old.”
He chuckled when how much money he was being offered, joking “it’s not that much money”.
However, Lions chief executive Rudolf Straeuli confirmed the union simply couldn’t match the offer.
“It’s going to remain a problem. Overseas clubs offer, on average, three to five times more than what a player earns in South Africa,” he said.
“We can’t stand in a guy’s way because it’s perfectly understandable. In Faf’s case, he followed the right channels and personally requested to be released.”
Straeuli added he didn’t believe De Klerk’s current situation at the Boks was a factor.
“I think there will always be speculation that the Springboks influenced his decision but that’s not the impression we got,” he said.
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