Botha set for Toulon switch?
February 21, 2011
Botha has reportedly put pen to paper on a three-year deal with Top 14 club Toulon © Getty Images
Springboks lock Bakkies Botha has reportedly agreed a move to big-spending French club Toulon.
According to Midi Olympique, the 31-year-old Bulls second row has put pen to paper on a three-year contract that will see him link up with the big-spending Top 14 club after this year's World Cup. The deal is worth a reported 700,000 euros (£589,000) a year and is set to be confirmed by Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal in the next 24 hours although the club website appeared to verify the reports earlier today.
Should the move be confirmed, the Rugby World Cup winner will become the latest in a long line of international stars to be lured to the south of France. Botha's long-time second row partner Victor Matfield is among those to have graced the Stade Mayol along with All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams.
More recently Wales international Gavin Henson made the switch to play alongside the likes of England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, former All Black Carl Hayman and ex-Wallabies flanker George Smith. And current Wallabies star Matt Giteau was the most recent to commit his future to the club having confirmed his intention to move to France after the World Cup.
Botha, who helped the Bulls open their Super Rugby account with a win against the Lions at the weekend, was previously targeted by Toulon in 2009 but the French club were thwarted due to his existing with contract his Pretoria-based side. Capped 72 times by South Africa, Botha has also won two Currie Cups with the Blue Bulls (2002 and 2009) and three Super Rugby titles with the Bulls (2007, 2009, 2010).
Asked for comment, Bulls High Performance manager Ian Schwartz told SuperSport.com, "Bakkies is a loyal Bull player and has always played open cards with us. He has always maintained that at the end of the 2011 season he wanted to continue his career overseas and we wish him well. We know that he will continue to give his all and remain a loyal and committed player for the Bulls and Springboks until the end of the year."
Sale prop Eifion Lewis-Roberts is also in line for a move to the continent with the Welsh international reportedly on the brink of a high-profile move in a two-year deal.
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