Although there is still some conjecture about the financial health of Western Province Rugby, the professional arm of the sport‚ the union has locked down a host of key players in contract extensions.
The Stormers are busy with their preseason training at their Bellville High Performance centre‚ and with the player roster seeming to be sorted until at least 2019‚ the focus is on preparing the side for a serious run at winning Super Rugby.
The senior Springbok and Stormers’ trio of Siya Kolisi‚ Damian de Allende and Steven Kitshoff, having signed extensions until the end of 2019‚ have since been joined by 13 other players in committing to the union for the next two years.
Experienced forwards JC Janse van Rensburg‚ Scarra Ntubeni‚ Nizaam Carr‚ Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ Caylib Oosthuizen‚ Ali Vermaak‚ as well as exciting younger talents Wilco Louw and Kobus van Dyk have all committed their immediate future to staying at Newlands.
Dillyn Leyds‚ Jano Vermaak‚ SP Marais‚ Craig Barry and Michal Hazner are the backline players that have signed extensions. And Springboks Bongi Mbonambi‚ Frans Malherbe‚ Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit are all currently on contracts as well that run until the end of 2019.
There are also a number of under-19 and under-21 players who have signed contract extensions with the franchise.
World Rugby Under-20 Championship player of the tournament Juarno Augustus and Junior Springbok captain Ernst van Rhyn are two of the young talents set to continue their careers with Western Province Rugby.
The wider training squad includes new recruits Sergeal Petersen‚ Joshua Stander and Neethling Fouche.
Bok wing Raymond Rhule will join training in January with the rest of the Springboks in the squad.
Former Springbok centre JJ Engelbrecht will make his return to Cape Town for the Super Rugby campaign once he has concluded his commitments with Japanese team Toyota Industries Shuttles.
Western Province head coach Robbie Fleck says that
following a short break after the Currie Cup competition, the players are refreshed and ready to give their all in an effort to further raise standards in all areas of the game.
"Last season we changed our approach in the preseason‚ which stood us in good stead throughout the campaign‚" Fleck says. "The focus is on making sure that we put the hard work in now‚ both physically and mentally‚ in order to prepare the team for what lies ahead next year."