World Cup-winning Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am has extended his contract with the Sharks for a further three years, until 2025.
Am will, however, take a short sabbatical from the Durban-based side and play for the Kobe Steelers in Japan for the next two months, starting from next week.
The two-month stint ensures that Am will be back in time for the United Rugby Championship play-offs, should the Sharks progress to the qualifiers.
This short-term release was afforded to Am based on his current commitment to the team, both in the past and for the future.
In Am’s absence, World Cup winning national captain, Siya Kolisi will take over the captaincy role and he will be supported and assisted by Thomas du Toit.
The centre and team captain has turned out for the Durban-based side since 2016.
The Sharks said in a statement on Thursday Am signing on for a further three years was proof of the player’s “belief in the franchise’s plan for the future and his dedication to winning trophies with the team.”
“Building a world class squad that fights for success and performs with distinction is all about identifying talent, recruiting where necessary and above all, retaining your top players,” explained The Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee.
“We are thrilled that Lukhanyo has thrown his full support behind what we at the Sharks are trying to achieve and he has committed his substantial abilities and player excellence to the Sharks for the next three years.
“His contribution to the Sharks has been phenomenal and we look forward with eager anticipation to the next few years with him as an integral member of the team.”