Earlier this month, the Sharks pulled off the massive signing of Etzebeth from French club Toulon, with deal officially confirmed to be a whopping five-year contract.
Etzebeth has revealed why he was looking forward to returning to South Africa from France, where he has been playing for Toulon. Considering that the towering lock is now 30-years-old, he could quite possibly come to the end of his career at the Durban-based franchise should he see out the full five years of his contract.
The Sharks in fact now have seven World Cup winners on their pay roll: Siya Kolisi, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, Bongi Mbonambi, Sbu Nkosi, Thomas du Toit and Etzebeth.
It’s all part of a bold vision that the Sharks hope will eventually see them become one of the most successful global rugby clubs, with a target having already been set to win the Champions Cup in the coming years.
However, it’s worth noting that Sharks supporters will need to be quite patient as they prepare for the first matchday experience of seeing Etzebeth in the black and white colours of the coastal side.
As it is, the World Cup winner is only set to “join” the Sharks in July after the conclusion of the European season.
The Springboks’ Test schedule obviously also gets underway in July with three Tests against Wales, while the national team will then head straight into preparation for the Rugby Championship that will run over August and September.
Realistically, it means that Etzebeth is then only likely to make his Sharks debut towards the end of this year, which will in all likelihood be during the start of the second season of the United Rugby Championship.
Although it means there will be a fairly lengthy wait for the lock to make his Sharks debut, Etzebeth has reiterated that there is lots to look forward to in the future.
“These are exciting times,” the 122kg, 2.03m lock said from France.
“I’m looking forward to coming to The Sharks and living in Durban and I expect this to be a wonderful chapter in my career. Family and being closer to home was a big motivating factor, as well as being able to represent a great team like the Sharks.
“I can see things are happening there, Siya [Kolisi] is there and we’ve been friends since were in the provincial Under 19s together and now we will get to play for the Sharks together. Along with my Springbok team-mates Bongi Mbonambi, Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, Thomas du Toit, all guys I know well. I’m also really excited to meet a few new guys.”
He added that playing home games at Kings Park also excites him.
“I’m looking forward to playing at The Shark Tank, the local derbies against the Bulls, Stormers and Lions will be awesome. I’m looking forward to being back in South Africa and playing in front of the Sharks fans there.
“I chatted to Siya, I gave Thomas a call and chatted to them. Off the field, things work, on the field we can see things are working and the team is doing well, I enjoyed watching the last game against the Bulls and the victory away from home and this is a brand I definitely want to be associated with and which I’m proud to be joining.”