Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx has resumed talks with the Stormers following confirmation that fellow World Cup-winner Bongi Mbonambi is definitely moving down the coast to join the Sharks.
Marx was already in negotiations with the Cape Town-based franchise two months ago, but the former Lions man was deterred by the uncertainty around Springbok team-mate Mbonambi's situation.
Mbonambi's proposed move to the Sharks in Durban was speculated on as long ago as when his former franchise captain, Siya Kolisi, joined the Stormers' KwaZulu-Natal rivals in February. But sealing the deal took on a life of its own as both sides dithered about whether he would leave Cape Town immediately or at the end of his contract in October.
The Sharks were reluctant to pay the Stormers out for what should have been the remainder of the hooker's stay, especially as they already have no less than five other options for the position in the form of Fezokuhle Mbatha, Kerron van Vuuren, Dan Jooste and the SA Under-20s' Jacques Goosen, with utility forward Dylan Richardson also part of the conversation.
Also, the powerful Marx's reluctance to head to Cape Town at the time was understandable, given that Mbonambi had ousted him in the Springbok starting line-up at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
But now that Mbonambi's departure for Durban has been confirmed as the end of October, City Press understands that Marx and the Stormers picked up the thread this week with a view of him playing for them from July next year because his contract with the Japanese club side Kubota Spears still has a year to run.
Apparently there are two reasons Marx is thinking about Cape Town in particular as a destination.
The first is that his wife, a doctor, cannot work in Japan or - in light of the demand Marx is in - France without having to do some sort of conversion of her qualifications.
This leaves South Africa and England as the big hooker's only options.
The second reason for the proposed move is that 26-year-old is best mates with fellow Springbok front rower Steven Kitshoff, and the two are supposed to be investigating the possibility of opening a brewery in Cape Town. Marx is rumoured to be earning between an eye-watering R14 million and R16 million in Japan.
This means signing him - even though it would, in all likelihood, mean a pay cut for him - would still require something approaching breaking the bank.
City Press understands that the Stormers would, with help from SA Rugby's Player of National Interest contributions, be prepared to pay the hooker up to R8 million. But those plans could be scuppered by interest from England. Clubs up there would be able to pay Marx between Pound 500 000 and Pound 700 000 (R9.5 million to R13.4 million) to play there.
And his wife would be able to work there without needing to spend time getting her qualifications up to the requisite state first.
This means that for the Stormers to get the hooker's services, he would have to be more interested in coming back to South Africa than in money.
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