CONFIRMED: Pieter-Steph's Japan 'sabbatical'
NEWS: World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit will make his last appearance in a Stormers jersey if he features in their Rainbow Cup outing against the Lions on Saturday.
The Stormers host the Lions in a dead rubber in the final round of the Rainbow Cup South Africa conference in Cape Town.
The Stormers and Lions are both out of the running for a place in the Final, with the Sharks and Bulls in a straight shootout in Durban to determine who will meet Benetton in the Final in Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso, on June 19.
@rugby365com can reveal that Du Toit has signed a contract to join World Cup-winning former All Black coach Steve Hansen at Verblitz in Japan.
Du Toit’s contract in Japan runs from November to May next year.
It is still uncertain what the future holds for Du Toit beyond May 2021, but his time with the Stormers will come to an end this weekend.
Initial reports have suggested that Du Toit would sign a two-year deal with the Japanese Top League side, Verblitz.
However, it has now been confirmed that he is only going for a ‘sabbatical’ after his Springbok commitments are completed and he may well return to the family farm in the Riebeeck Kasteel region in the Western Cape.
Du Toit’s current contract with the Stormers runs till the end of October, but he will report for Springbok duty at the training camp in Bloemfontein next week.
He will then feature in the Tests against Georgia and the much-anticipated British and Irish Lions series.
That is followed by the Rugby Championship (from August 14 to October 2) and the year-end tour in November.
Other South Africans at Verblitz are World Cup-winning Bok fullback Willie le Roux, utility back Lionel Cronjé and utility forward Jason Jenkins.
Du Toit, 28, has 55 caps for South Africa and was named World Rugby Player of the Year in 2019.
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* Meanwhile it has also been confirmed that another World Cup winner, veteran hooker Bismarck Du Plessis, is returning to South Africa.
No firm decision has been made about his future.
He is planning to sit down with his family, once he is back in South Africa towards the end of the month, and then make a call about his future.
Du Plessis has left Montpellier a year before the end of his contract, the Top 14 club announced Tuesday.
Du Plessis, who won 79 caps for the Springboks, joined the southern French club after the 2015 World Cup along with his brother, prop Jannie.
In six seasons in France, the abrasive hooker played 108 games for Montpellier, scoring 27 tries, and was part of the squad that twice won the European Challenge Cup (2016, 2021).
A World Cup winner in 2007 under former Montpellier coach Jake White, the 37-year-old Du Plessis is one of 14 players being released by the club.
Du Plessis’ compatriots Johan Goosen, a utility back capped 13 times by the Boks, and uncapped lock Jacques du Plessis have also been released.
Both have signed for the Bulls back in South Africa.