Durban – Former captain Keegan Daniel has rejected a new contract from the Sharks and will leave them at the end of the Super Rugby season, the Durban union announced on Friday.

The 29-year-old loose forward, who led the team to Currie Cup glory last season, will join Japanese club Kubota after spending over 10 years with the coastal franchise.

“We offered Keegan a long-term contract to stay in Durban, but he has decided that it was time in his career for a new challenge,” Sharks chief executive officer John Smit said.

“We respect his decision and thank him for ten years of dedication and loyalty. We wish him the very best for this new and exciting chapter in his life.”

Daniel joined the team from the Sharks Academy in 2004 and made his debut against the Reds in 2006.

He has made 199 appearances for the Sharks in all competitions, but is yet to feature in the new Jake White era after picking up an injury pre-season.

However, he has been named on the bench for this weekend's clash against the Waratahs at Kings Park.

“Keegan has been an instrumental part of the Sharks for many years,” Smit said.

“His commitment to the jersey and to the franchise could never be questioned.”

Daniel, who also earned Springbok recognition during his time in Durban with five caps for South Africa, admitted it was tough decision to leave.

“I am eternally grateful to the Sharks for what they have done for my career,” he said.

“I have been at the union for ten years, experienced many highs, and have had the opportunity to interact with people from diverse backgrounds and have built lasting friendships along the way.

“It is never an easy decision to make when the time comes to move on and ply your trade elsewhere. I am sad to leave a place that I have called home and will always respect what the Sharks jersey stands for. It was an honour to captain the team for a couple of seasons and I have enjoyed every single moment of my time here.

“I look forward to contributing to the team's aspirations during the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament before I embark on a new journey that seeks to embrace a new culture and style of rugby.” – Sapa