Gurthro stays loyal to Boks
Johannesburg - Although he will be joining French Club Toulouse on a lucrative three-year deal, Springbok loosehead prop Gurthro Steenkamp said on Wednesday he will do everything in his power to ensure the national side retains their title as world champions in New Zealand later this year.
"I would like to make it clear that I am 100% committed to helping the Bulls and Springboks achieve success this year and I am eager to get back on the playing field as soon as possible," said Steenkamp.
The 2010 SA Rugby Player-of-the-Year broke his forearm in his team's fifth round Super Rugby match against the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld.
He is expected to be back in action towards the end of May.
As far as his deal with Toulouse is concerned, the 30-year-old has mixed feelings about his decision to move to Europe.
"I am really looking forward to the challenges playing in Europe, although it will not be easy to say goodbye to my Bulls family who have played such an important part in my career."
"Moving to Toulouse also gives me an opportunity to experience a new culture while the challenges that frontrowers face in that part of the world is an exciting prospect."
Steenkamp's agent, James Adams, would not divulge financial implications of the player's deal with the French Top 14 club.
"I cannot comment on the value of the contract he has signed, but it is on par with what players of his stature expect to earn abroad," Adams said.
"Gurthro is a player with integrity and his decision to move to Toulouse is to be understood, considering that he has achieved everything South African rugby has to offer.
On Wednesday Steenkamp was named in the provisional Springbok squad of 51 players that will take part in three World Cup strategy meetings in coming months.
"A player of his calibre will flourish in France and although he will be missed, he will always be loyal to the country and the Springboks," Adams insisted.
Toulouse have also penned Luke McAlister, Luke Burgess and Timoci Matanavou for the 2011 season.
They will join France fly-half Lionel Beauxis, who has agreed a three-year deal as well, and Nicolas Bezy, Jean-Marc Doussain and Russlan Boukerou, who have signed their first professional contracts at their formative club.
Burgess, 27, will become the first Australian in over 60 years to play for Toulouse.