Faf de Klerk says the deal with Sale Sharks “was just a great offer which I couldn’t turn down”. Photo: Travis Anderson, EPA

JOHANNESBURG – The Lions Rugby Company confirmed today that scrumhalf Faf de Klerk has been released from his contract.

He will now take up a three-year contract to play for Sale Sharks in England.

De Klerk will leave the Lions at the end of the current Super Rugby campaign.

“Faf is still very important in our Super Rugby campaign as he plays a vital role in our squad system. The player made a personal request to be released to further his career abroad, and we felt we couldn’t stand in his way, while we also couldn’t match the offer he received,” Rudolf Straeuli, CEO of the Lions Rugby Company, said on Thursday.

De Klerk joined the Lions in 2014 and has 58 Super Rugby appearances under his belt, which includes 12 tries. He has also played 11 Tests for the Springboks.

De Klerk was full of praise for the Lions and his time with the union. “I have loved every minute with the Lions and will miss the camaraderie with my brothers. It is a special bunch of players that are more than teammates to me, and I am thankful for the opportunity the Lions gave me.

“I am fully committed to the Super Rugby campaign for the rest of the season. I now want to put this matter behind me, and give my everything for what still lies ahead here.”

De Klerk has been left out of the last two Springbok training camps ahead of next month’s three-Test series against France.

It was thought his “demotion” by Bok boss Allister Coetzee played a part in his decision to move abroad, but he denied that today.

“No, that didn’t play a part,” he said. “It was just a great offer which I couldn’t turn down.”

It has been reported that De Klerk will earn in the region of R20 million over the three years.

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