Frans Steyn’s agent Gerrie Swart has denied reports claiming that the Springbok star has signed a contract with French club Racing Metro.
Afrikaans newspaper Beeld reported that Steyn is set to join the French side, who are likely to gain promotion to the Top 14, at the end of the year. They also said that he has already signed a lucrative contract with the ambitious Parisians.
However, Swart was quick to deny the speculation and insists his client is still a long way from signing any contract abroad.
“Frans hasn’t signed anything,” Swart told keo.co.za. “I don’t know where they get the reports from. We are talking to Racing, as we have been doing for the past few months. They want to send us a pre-contract and only once we have that in our hands we will go to SA Rugby and to the Sharks and sit down and see if we can come to an agreement – that is if Frans indeed wants to go.”
While Steyn is contracted to the Sharks until the end of October and SA Rugby until December, Swart admits that the rumours are distressing and is worried that they could tarnish the youngster’s image.
“It is a pity that these rumours are doing the rounds because it does seem as if Frans has something to hide or he has done something and he is not prepared to admit it. Frans will be honouring those commitments and it is not something that is open for discussion.
“Racing are prepared to sign him from 1 January 2010 after his contract with both the Sharks and SA Rugby concludes. Racing Metro are prepared to wait so there is no talk of him been released before the end of December.”
Swart admits that moving overseas was not something the 21-year-old had been contemplating until Racing started to show an interest.
“The reality is that Francois wants to hopefully play rugby until the 2015 World Cup,” added Swart. “The plan has always been that towards the end of his career he would look at options abroad.”
Swart confirmed that the contract with Racing will stipulate that Steyn would be available for Springbok selection and also allow sufficient time for him to join any training squad in order to properly prepare for Test matches, but added that it would be SA Rugby which would ultimately have the final say.
“The problem is that it doesn’t mean much if Racing commit to that [releasing Steyn for Springbok duty] and SA Rugby decides that it is not going to consider overseas-based players for the Springboks and that is something we need to sort out first. Frans is passionate about the Springbok jersey and it’s very important to him and he wouldn’t want to do anything that would result in bridges being burned between him and SA Rugby.’
Racing are looking to sign Steyn on a one-year contract from 2010 to 2011 with an option of an extra year after that and although Swart could not comment on the exact figures it is believed that it would certainly eclipse what any South African playing overseas is currently earning.
“It is a good figure, and it will be a lucrative contract,” said Swart. “Whether it’s a record contract or one of the most lucrative is irrelevant. It is, however, a contract that no South African province would be able to match and at this point in time no other club in the world would be prepared to match.”
With Steyn having seemingly settled into his new role at inside centre for the Sharks, there would of course be questions over where he would play if he were to move to France. It seems he would in all likelihood be used by coach Pierre Berbizier in a dual role.
“Racing have said that they will use him at both 10 and 12. They make no secret of the fact that they believe in selecting two flyhalves in the team and from the word go Pierre Berbizier has said that in the modern game you need two 10s on the field.”
By Andrew Worling