Springbok Akker to leave Sharks

Akker van der Merwe has agreed an early release from his contract and will return to South Africa

Sale Sharks can today confirm that Springbok hooker Akker van der Merwe will leave the club with immediate effect.

The 32-year-old, who has played 70 times for Sale and scored 31 tries since joining from Cell C Sharks in 2019, has agreed an early release from his contract and, for personal reasons, will now return to South Africa.

Sharks Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson said: “Akker has played some of his best rugby here and we feel he’s become one of the world’s best, most physical hookers.

“He brings infectious energy to everything he does and you can hear him through the walls around the training ground. He has done so much to help and support our young front-row players too.

“We’re gutted to be losing him because he’s been instrumental in everything we have done since I’ve been here. But he goes with our blessing because he’s leaving for the right reasons.

“Everyone at the club is really going to miss him, but we wish him all the best.”

Akker said: “I’ve absolutely loved every second of my time at Sale Sharks and I’m really going to miss the club and the people.

“When I came to Manchester, I thought it would be great move for my rugby career, and I do think I’ve played my best rugby at Sale. But I have learned and grown so much as a person too.

“When I first arrived I was quite quiet but I soon realised that this was a club where I could really be myself. I’ve never experienced an environment where everyone is encouraged to express themselves and be as open as possible.

“This group of players, the coaches, and staff make it such a special place to play. The fans have been amazing in their support for me and the team so I want to say thank you to them for everything.”

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