World player of the year Du Toit staying at Stormers

Johannesburg (AFP) –


World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit has opted to remain at South African club the Western Stormers, ending speculation of a big-money move to France or Japan.

A statement from the Cape Town-based Super Rugby outfit released Thursday said the 27-year-old loose forward had withdrawn a contract termination notification made last week.

When SA Rugby announced coronavirus-induced pay cuts for all local-based stars, they were given three weeks to choose between remaining at their clubs or moving abroad.

The Stormers added that the 2019 World Cup-winning Springbok will stay with them at least until after the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa, scheduled for July-August 2021.

"Pieter-Steph wanted to stay at Western (Stormers) Province, he is a true team man who is integral to our plans," said board member Andre van der Veen.

The South African media reported that Montpellier had offered Du Toit 75 million rand ($4.2mn/3.9mn euros) for a three-year deal, but the French club denied any interest.

Several Japanese sides were also reportedly interested in the two-metre, 120-kilogramme flanker, whose younger brother, Johan, is another loose forward in the Stormers squad.

Formerly a lock, Du Toit was first capped against Wales in 2013 and has represented three-time world champions South Africa 55 times, scoring five tries.

He and fellow back-row forward Duane Vermeulen were the only Springbok forwards to play the full 80 minutes in the 2019 World Cup final, which they won 32-12 against England in Japan.