Francois van der Merwe has signed with French club Toulon and will no longer feature for Western Province this season.
WP coach Allister Coetzee denied rumours that other top players such as Ross Skeate and Dylan des Fountain would be moving to France, but conceded Van der Merwe is no longer with the Cape side.
“Francois has decided to take up a contract with Toulon and will be joining them immediately,” said Coetzee. “I can’t stop players from wanting to play elsewhere, and I can’t accuse them of chasing the big money.”
Coetzee’s point is valid considering Van der Merwe has struggled to get regular playing time for both WP and the Stormers. Since senior professional coach Rassie Erasmus brought Adriaan Fondse down from the Bulls, Van der Merwe has battled to get an extended opportunity. Even with Andries Bekker’s Springbok call up, Skeate and Fondse have been the preferred WP second row combination.
Van der Merwe will now join Province team-mate Tiaan Liebenberg, who signed for Toulon after the Super 14.
By Jon Cardinelli