Johannesburg – South Africa’s World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi announced Sunday that he is leaving the Stormers after 11 years with the Cape Town franchise.
While the 29-year-old loose forward did not say which team he might join, there has been speculation that it will be the Durban-based Sharks.
Kolisi offered no explanation as to why he is leaving the only professional team he has ever played for, graduating from the under-19 side to the Currie Cup and Super Rugby squads.
A Stormers source told AFP that the Springboks skipper was among several players who were unhappy with recent developments at the financially troubled franchise.
After lengthy talks, Stormers officials recently failed to clinch a deal with an American company, MVM Holdings, who subsequently bought a 51% controlling share in the Sharks.
“I would like to thank everybody for what has been an incredible time in my life in which I have grown as a rugby player and a person,” Kolisi said in statement.
Stormers coach John Dobson said: “Siya Kolisi will always be a Stormers legend. His story is well known throughout the world and everyone here is grateful to have played a role in it.
“We would have loved for Siya to stay and finish his career where it started, but we wish him all the best.”
Kolisi dreamt of winning the Currie Cup this year with Western Province — the name the Stormers use in domestic competitions — but they flopped at home to the Sharks in the semifinals.
Kolisi missed part of the marquee South African rugby competition while self-isolating after his wife, Rachel, contracted coronavirus.
Since leading the Springboks to victory over England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final in Japan, Kolisi and his fellow World Cup winners have been severely frustrated by the pandemic.
All 13 international tests scheduled for 2020 were canceled and uncertainty surrounds the eight-match British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, which is scheduled to kick off on July 3.
South Africa also hopes this year to meet New Zealand, Australia and Argentina home and away in the Rugby Championship and play England, Scotland and a third country to be named on a tour of Europe.
The rise of Kolisi from a childhood in a poor township near Port Elizabeth to leading South Africa to World Cup glory is a classic rags-to-riches tale.
Kolisi was spotted by a rugby talent scout and won a scholarship to an elite rugby-playing school at the age of 12, three years before his mother died.
He joined the Stormers after leaving school, made his first Currie Cup appearance in 2011 and his Super Rugby debut one year later.
Kolisi won the first of 50 Springbok caps on his 22nd birthday in 2013 and five years later became the first black Test captain of a team reserved for whites for 90 years from its formation in 1891.
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