Faf de Klerk will join Sale Sharks at the end of the current Super Rugby campaign. Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG - While Faf de Klerk scoffed at suggestions he is moving to England only for the R20-million he will reportedly earn over three years, Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli conceded South Africa can simply not match the offers being made from abroad.

Straeuli on Thursday confirmed Lions and Springbok No 9 De Klerk will leave the union at the end of the current Super Rugby campaign to take up a three-year deal with Sale Sharks in England.

De Klerk said the offer wasn’t as big as had been reported, but Straeuli said: “We can’t match the offers from overseas they are up to five times more than what we can offer here,” he said.

“That’s all a player (like Faf) has got rugby is his career.”

Straeuli added South African rugby bosses had to look into how they go about contracting players in future. He said it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring in something like football’s transfer fee so that union’s also benefited from players moving around.

“It’s something we need to look at. The offers are just so much bigger than in South Africa.”

Straeuli said he hoped a player like De Klerk could go to England and learn more about the game and, hopefully, come back and again play for the Lions one day.

“I don’t think we must look at it as losing a player but that a player is going abroad to grow his game and then he’ll come back,” said Straeuli.

The No 9, who was left out of the last two Springbok training camps and is apparently out of the running to play for the Boks against France next month, said the opportunity to play abroad was too good to turn down, and his decision to move had nothing to do with his being left out of the Bok training groups.

“I can’t influence who gets selected and who doesn’t,” he said on Thursday.

“It was a great opportunity to go overseas and I’ve decided to do that.”

He assured Lions fans he will give his best to the team’s Super Rugby campaign in the coming weeks and months. “I am fully committed to and focused on the campaign for the rest of the season,” he said.

“I am glad the decision is behind me so I can focus on the job at hand.”

Photo: Muzi Ntombela / BackpagePix

Lions captain Warren Whiteley said the players had put behind them the news that De Klerk and also coach Johan Ackermann will be leaving in a few months time.

“As a player you never know when things are going to change, when a particular group changes, or a player moves on so you have to cherish every moment,” he said.

“Great friends of mine have moved elsewhere in 2014 and in 2012, so you can’t take anything for granted.”

Ackermann will join English Premiership side Gloucester after the current campaign and Straeuli said plans were in place to ensure the hand-over to a new coach went smoothly.

“We’re on track regarding what we want to do. We have discussed the succession plan but won’t announce anything until after Super Rugby.

"It would be unfair to announce a new coach at this important time of our campaign,” said Straeuli.

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The Star

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