'Monster' Japan deal for JP

Durban - Springbok and Sharks wing JP Pietersen will head to Japan for the next two seasons, but will still be available to play for the Springboks for a large part of the international season.

According to the supersport.com website, the deal, which is still to be finalised, is “unique” and will bring Pietersen into a different earning league in the next few seasons before 2015 where he will return to South Africa to attempt to make the Rugby World Cup squad.

Pietersen - one of the stalwarts of Springbok rugby at the moment - is very close to signing both a contract extension with the Sharks and a deal in Japan which will tie him up until the 2015 season.

The deal will also see him being available for selection for both the June and November Test series, but not for the Rugby Championship.

Pietersen’s agent James Adams said he (Pietersen) was waiting to finalise the paperwork, but was happy that Pietersen would be signing “one of the biggest deals ever done in SA Rugby.”

“It’s not all finalised yet,” Adams said, “But this is a monster deal, one of the biggest ever done in SA, although finances isn’t the reason why he has decided on this move. JP also had interest from both Toulon and Stade Francois but chose the Japanese option because it allowed him to play for the Sharks as well, and he is very loyal to them.”

Adams said Pietersen is looking “for a change of environment.”

“He needs a break, and needs to do something different. He has been at the Sharks for a long time and is very loyal to them. They’ve been very good to him and he doesn’t necessarily want to leave them.”

The deal was done so that Pietersen could head to Japan after the incoming tours series in June, then return at the end of the Japanese season in March to continue playing for the Sharks in Super Rugby.

“We have spoken to (Springbok coach) Heyneke (Meyer) before we started negotiation and he is happy. Although the deal hasn’t been signed yet, its very close. The nice thing is that he can play for the Springboks, and especially on the end of year tour, while earning good money. Also, the conditioning programme that JP will follow is the Sharks conditioning programme. We wanted to make sure it was handled the correct way and we are happy with the outcome of this unique deal.”

Adams added that the Sharks “have been fantastic in coming to the table on the contact extension” and that Pietersen was looking forward to returning to play Super Rugby for the coastal side.