Pieter-Steph du Toit. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER
Pieter-Steph du Toit. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER

When you are the world player of the year‚ it is perhaps natural for your contract negotiations to become a seismic event.

The rumblings‚ uncertainty and dust eventually settled in Cape Town on Wednesday night when Pieter-Steph du Toit finally committed himself to the Cape.

For now that is‚ as he will almost certainly leave for Europe after 2021’s Test series against the British and Irish Lions.

After much obfuscation, Du Toit has opted to remain with Western Province and the Stormers after his initial decision to cancel his contract shortly before the end of the 21-day window offered to players in return for a collective acceptance of pay cuts due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the end, Du Toit did not cancel his contract‚ he merely had the existing one amended, which means he can now negotiate with overseas clubs. It also means that like his teammates he has had to accept a salary reduction.

While Du Toit indicated initially that he would have his contract cancelled‚ Western Province signalled their intention to dispute the legality of the opt-out window.

The franchise said in a statement it was in their and SA rugby’s interest to have the 55-Test veteran stay.

They stiffened their stance, and despite criticism got their man to stay.

Naturally‚ Stormers coach John Dobson is a relieved man.

“Pieter-Steph is an important team member‚ his extraordinary work-rate coupled with his ball-carrying skills makes our pack even more formidable,” he said.

“The rehabilitation on his injury is progressing well and we are looking forward to seeing him in a Stormers jersey again when we get back on the field.

“Not only is this good for the Stormers and Western Province Rugby‚ but it is also good for SA rugby that we have kept such prominent players in the country‚ looking ahead at the post-pandemic rugby offering and market.

“We are proud as a union of our achievement of contracting eight Rugby World Cup winning Springboks in the province and keeping them in the country‚” said Dobson.

Dobson can now focus wholly on getting his team ready for when on-field hostilities resume.

“With this period of uncertainty now behind us‚ we have managed to navigate this period relatively unscathed. We hope rugby will be able to resume as soon as safely possible so that the faithful and the rugby public can enjoy seeing this special group of athletes play rugby.

“Our efforts are now focused on conditioning and training‚ to ensure that we are rugby ready‚” Dobson said.