Springbok winger Makazole Mapimpi will join Japanese side NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes for the upcoming season from September 2020 until April 2021.
The Hurricanes, who are coached by South African Johan Ackermann, had initially tried to land Mapimpi during the “transfer window” on a permanent deal in a big money move reported to be worth over R9 million in net value.
However, the Rugby World Cup winner signed a contract extension until 2023 which allows him to take a sabbatical in Japan while boosting his earning potential. It also sees him retain a place at the Cell C Sharks and keeps him in selectors’ sights for the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour.
The 29-year-old said that the original Japanese offer was for one year but he could not just leave for a year without knowing what would happen to his future thereafter.
“I’m not saying I don’t trust myself to perform or find a new home but I can’t leave a place where I was well taken care of just because I see bigger offers elsewhere,” Mapimpi told local publication Sport24.
Mapimpi credits Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee for a favourable outcome in negotiations for both club and player at a time when South African rugby looked to be in a vulnerable position to retain its top talent, especially the RWC winners.
“I had to sit down and talk with the relevant people and they gave me a chance to quickly go over there and make a little money for myself.”
Mapimpi, like several South African overseas-based players, is hoping to play in the upcoming Lions tour next year describing it as his “most epic goal”.
“It will depend on the coaches, obviously, but I feel like I could still make it to the Bok squad for the British and Irish Lions tour.
Mapimpi, the first South African to score a try in a RWC final, made his Super Rugby debut in 2017 and has amassed a total of 100 points in 46 appearances.