The Cell C Sharks confirm the departure of Akker van der Merwe and Robert du Preez (Jnr), who will join Sale Sharks in England at the conclusion of this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.

This announcement has been made early to allow both these players the opportunity to concentrate on the Cell C Sharks Super Rugby campaign, which sees us currently on top of the overall log with two bonus point wins.

The Sharks CEO, Gary Teichmann said: “The Cell C Sharks are sad to see these two players, who have been integral members of the team depart. They will be missedhowever we respect their decisions and wish them well.

With this being a rugby World Cup year, we anticipated the departure of a few players and our long-term succession planning, which includes focusing on depth in key positions, have made provisions for this.  There are a talented group of young players that are coming through the system and some of them have already made the step up and this is none more so evident then with four youngsters having already made their Vodacom Super Rugby debuts in 2019.”

Commenting on their departures the players said:

Robert du Preez (Jnr) – “It was an extremely difficult decision to leave The Sharks and Durban, especially with the family connections I have here but I feel as though it is the right time in my career for a new challenge and a change of scenery.

“I take this opportunity to thank everyone associated with Sharks rugby for everything they have done for me and I am fully committed to the Cell C Sharks and will give everything I have during this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby season and hopefully build on last year’s win in the Currie Cup to produce some more special memories before I leave.”

Akker van der Merwe – “I have only great memories of my time in Durban, being part of the Cell C Sharks set-up and especially the brotherhood we’ve created within the team.  This was a tough decision for my wife and I to make because we had settled here and had hoped to have made Durban home for a while.

Life doesn’t always go according to plan and circumstances require you to adapt your planning. My thanks and appreciation are extended to Coach Rob and everyone at The Sharks for providing me with opportunities to develop myself both as a player and as a person.

My immediate focus remains on the Cell C Sharks Vodacom Super Rugby campaign and I am fully committed in the coming months to finishing my time in Durban on a high.

“We look forward to watching Akker and Robert perform for the Cell C Sharks in the next few months with their typically high standard of play and hopefully they can depart Durban with more silverware in the cabinet”, Teichmann added.