Springbok duo Mapimpi, Am latest stars linked with moves abroad
South African 2019 Rugby World Cup heroes and Sharks team-mates, Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am, are the latest high-profile Springboks linked with moves abroad.
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The 29-year-old Mapimpi, who became the first South African to score a try in a World Cup final on November 2 last year, has received an offer from a Japanese club.
Sport24 understands that the club has given Mapimpi until the close of business on Friday to make a decision.
Am, meanwhile, is understood to have sparked interest from clubs in both England and France and the Sharks now face a nervy week ahead as they look to hold onto two of their biggest playing assets.
The sudden interest from overseas clubs in South African players stems from a 21-day window that was agreed upon by the SA Rugby Industry, MyPlayers and the South African Rugby Employers' Organisation (SAREO) in which all professional players were given three weeks - until 14 May - to get out of their current contracts with their respective unions and sign on the dotted line with those big-spending UK, France and Japanese clubs in particular.
It all forms part of SA Rugby's attempt at cutting costs across the board in an effort to save up to R1 billion by the end of the year as the economic impact of the coronavirus becomes more severe with each passing week.
In Cape Town, there have been no new developments since reports on Sunday linked star player Pieter-Steph du Toit to a mega money move to French club Montpellier.
To make matters worse, the clause stipulates that franchises cannot negotiate with their players during this time, so there can be no counteroffering once the players and their agents receive an offer from abroad.
The Sharks' worries do not stop with Am and Mapimpi, either.
Sport24 further understands that flyhalf Curwin Bosch has sparked interest from English club Bath while prop Thomas du Toit has been linked with French clubs Toulon and Racing Metro.
Lock JJ van der Mescht, meanwhile, is understood to have been contacted by French club Stade Francais.
Both Mapimpi and captain Am have been in superb form for the Sharks this Super Rugby season and had helped the Durbanites to six wins from seven matches and top spot on the combined log when they tournament was suspended in late March because of the coronavirus.
A late arrival on the international stage, Mapimpi has been equally explosive in Springbok colours and he has scored 14 tries from his 14 Test matches since making his debut under Rassie Erasmus in 2018.
SA Rugby's new contracting model and policy on overseas-based players will ensure that Mapimpi and Am, who has 15 Test caps, are still available for national selection should they move abroad.