By Craig Lewis
The Sharks have confirmed Brad Barritt will be released at the end of the Currie Cup to take up a three year contract with English club Saracens.
The talented 21-year-old's departure is a massive loss for the province and Springbok rugby but he has unequivocally stated that he is not "turning his back" on South Africa or the Sharks and is simply seeking to further his career.
"It's nothing negative towards the Sharks or South Africa at all. It's just a great opportunity for me to broaden my horizons," he explained. "It's a good time for me as a young guy to ply my trade there and be exposed to some fresh ideas.
He also quelled rumours that he made the decision in the hope that he might get an opportunity to play for England, as his family's English ancestry would indeed help him to qualify.
"If the Springboks came knocking I would still be available. It's just about having a new experience."
Barritt also said there was no truth in a report that suggested he considered trying out for the Scotland team after school.
He explained that after matriculating from Kearsney in 2004, he was "approached by Bath University to study and play rugby there" and was also invited to an England U19 training camp, but that his intention was always to play for the Sharks.
After more than 50 appearances for the coastal franchise, Barritt will join a contingent of South Africans at Saracens.
Former Springbok Cobus Visagie has made a massive impact at the UK Premiership Club and has been so impressive that quixotic Saracens coach Eddie Jones has asked him to fulfil a player-coach role next year.
Ex-Stormers player Neil de Kock has also left a distinct mark on the club and was made team captain while former Springbok and Sharks utility back Brent Russell recently made the journey to Vicarage Road as well.
Their most recent signing though is Bulls and Springbok flanker Wikus van Heerden, who, like Barritt, will join Saracens at the end of this Currie Cup season.
So how did Barritt's signing come about?
"I have had a few approaches from them over the past couple of years. They knew of my English ancestry through my parents and I think they kind of kept an eye on me.
"I was very open with the Sharks and told them my thinking. They were extremely supportive," he explained.
"Saracens and the Sharks have a good understanding and if the Sharks run into trouble in the Super 14 next year they could call on me to help out," Barritt added.
Barritt has never been part of the senior Springbok squad, but he did play for the Emerging Boks last year and the SA U21s in 2006.
"Things haven't gone my way with regards to Bok selection but that's not the reason I've decided to leave at all."
Barritt also said it was an opportunity for him to continue his studies.
"I'm in the middle of my B.Com Finance degree and they have set things up so I can finish it over there."
Over the years, Barritt has established himself as an astute play-maker and an extremely intelligent player.