Stormers double blow as Pieter-Steph du Toit, JD Schickerling head for Japan
Stormers' star flanker will play for Toyota Verblitz, lock has signed short-term contract
The Stormers aren't just losing star Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit to Toyota Verblitz in Japan. In a double whammy they have also lost influential lock JD Schickerling to the Japanese Top League.
Both will depart after five seasons with the Stormers and will leave a considerable void in the squad as the team embarks on European competition in the form of the United Rugby Championship in the coming weeks.
Du Toit, who was the world player of the year in 2019, has not operated much for his franchise since injury ruled him out of the initial stages of Super Rugby last year. Still, the departure of a high-profile player of his calibre is a blow to the prestige of the franchise.
Schickerling has developed into a dynamic work horse in the second row and his industry will be equally missed.
WP would not stand in their way
Du Toit, who is on the sidelines with a shoulder injury he picked up in the Test series against the British & Irish Lions, is due to leave when his contract expires in November.
Coach John Dobson said Western Province Professional Rugby (WPPR) was not going to stand in the way of what are life-changing deals for the two imposing forwards. “As much as we would have liked to keep both JD and Pieter-Steph here, there was no way we could realistically match the offers that they received. We wish them all the best and thank them for their efforts here over the years.
“They are both supremely talented players whose commitment to the cause cannot be questioned, which is obviously what makes them such attractive prospects,” he said.
Schickerling has been granted an early release to take up a short-term contract, with a view to returning to resume his career with WPPR down the line.
The franchise is expected to announce the acquisition of players ahead of the United Rugby Championship in the coming days. Apart from augmenting the pack with the departure of Du Toit and Schickerling, Dobson has intimated they also need to improve their depth at flyhalf.