Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Springbok wing Bryan Habana may be the next big profile names to jet off to Japan after it was confirmed he is in negotiations with top Japanese team Kobe Steelers.
Habana is yet to conclude negotiations with Western Province and the Stormers and can earn big money in Japan where he will join Rugby World Cup team-mates Danie Rossouw and Fourie du Preez, both of whom have signed for Suntory Sungoliath for the next two years. Habana had been turned down by French Top 14 club Toulon for wanting R21 million over three years rather than the R18 million they were offering him. According to sources in Europe, Habana’s name is still being mentioned there, but it seems he has decided to stay in Cape Town, unless the Japanese can convince him.
The Kobe Steelers already have one South African player in Peter Grant and it seems the lure of the Yen and a lower intensity of games are an attractive combination at the moment, with many New Zealand and Australian players opting for the Far East.
WP CEO Rob Wagner confirmed earlier this week that Jaque Fourie had been speaking to Japanese clubs.
“Jaque let us know immediately that a quite a few Japanese clubs spoke to him,” said Wagner.
“It is always the case that clubs put their feelers out to big players who have not lengthened their contracts for the next season.”
“Jaque let us know that he does not want to make any decision until he has spoken to us and because he had to focus on the World Cup, we did not want to speak to him on the phone every single day,” insisted Wagner.
WP may opt for an arrangement similar to Grant's, where he returns midway through the Super Rugby season.