The good news for South African rugby is that World Cup-winner Makazole Mapimpi is winging his way back to the Sharks.
The try-machine’s contract with the Sharks allows for an annual sabbatical in Japan and now that his duties at the Docomo Red Hurricanes — coached by former Lions boss Johan Ackermann — are drawing to a close, he is returning to Jonsson Kings Park.
Sharks CEO Ed Coetzee said on Wednesday that Mapimpi will be back “sometime in April” and will thus be ready for the Sharks’ foray into the Rainbow Cup, which kicks off on April 24.
Mapimpi had been targeted by the Japanese club when the Covid-19-enforced transfer window opened during hard lockdown last year, reportedly offering the 29-year-old an astronomical figure — believed to be close to around R9-million per annum — but skillful negotiating by Coetzee ensured Mapimpi has kept one boot planted in South Africa.
Mapimpi will surely retain his place for the series against the Lions, despite a number of in-form wings being hot on his heels, including Sharks teammate Sbu Nkosi, and it is helpful for Bok coach Jacques Nienaber to have the opportunity to see Mapimpi in action in the Rainbow Cup, playing with and against many of his Bok teammates.
Mapimpi has an incredible strike rate — 14 tries in his 14 Tests — and his return to the South African fold is a welcome boost ahead of the Lions series.The Sharks’ depth at wing is now impressively strong — besides Mapimpi and Nkosi, coach Sean Everitt has a clutch of young wingers coming through, including the powerful Yaw Penxe. – IOL Sport