Eben Etzebeth. Picture: REUTERS
Eben Etzebeth. Picture: REUTERS

Eben Etzebeth looks set to be at the centre of a battle between Western Province and French club Toulon after the latter announced last week that the big Bok would move to France after the 2019 World Cup.

WP CEO Paul Zacks seemed to have been taken by surprise by the announcement and claimed not to have been informed about the move.

Toulon’s maverick owner and president Mourad Boudjellal confirmed on Thursday that a deal had been struck between the club and Etzebeth‚ which was finalised when the Boks were in Paris on their recent northern hemisphere tour.

There is likely to be little that WP can do to stop the move as Etzebeth is only contracted until the end of 2019.

Zacks’s irritation appears to stem from the fact that correct protocols were not followed.

Etzebeth is one of 20 players to have a tripartite contract in which his wages are paid by both SA Rugby and WP.

In Etzebeth’s case SA Rugby pays for 60% while WP picks up the remaining 40%.

"We are going to be writing a letter to SA Rugby because at the end of the day it’s a tripartite agreement and SA Rugby and Western Province are parties as well as the player to that contract‚" Zacks said.

"The fact is that there are contractual commitments in place with the individuals‚ and I suppose the disappointing part is that protocol wasn’t followed. But I’m not sure it’s the player’s fault," he said.

"In terms of the Springboks and a lot of the players going forward‚ I think we all know there is always a lot of movement of players post a World Cup to greener pastures.

"That is not unexpected‚ I think it’s just the way we manage the communication [that] is key and following protocol and having respect for the parties."