Lobbe to leave Sharks
Sale Sharks have announced that Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe has decided to move to France at the end of the season.
Last Updated: 20/03/09 3:34pm
Sale Sharks have announced that club captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe has decided to leave the club at the end of the current season.
The Argentina international joined the Sharks in the summer of 2006 and has been a huge success during his time at Edgeley Park.
The Guinness Premiership outfit had desperately been trying to convince the 27-year-old to extend his contract at the club, but he has instead opted to move to France.
Although it has not yet been confirmed who the back-rower will join, it is expected he will link up with former Sale supremo Philippe Saint-Andre at Toulon.
There are hugely lucrative deals on offer in France as, unlike their English counterparts, French clubs are not currently subject to a salary cap.
"Juan has decided to take up a new challenge in France, but he leaves with our good wishes and he desperately wants to win something with Sale Sharks before he leaves," director of rugby Kingsley Jones stated.
"We have done everything we possibly can to keep Juan at the club, but we can't compete with the market in France where there is no salary cap."
Fernandez Lobbe joins the likes of Wasps trio James Haskell, Tom Palmer and Riki Flutely who have all already accepted moves across the channel for next season.
The popular forward was quick to thank fans after revealing his decision to leave, declaring: "I would like to thank the fans for their support over the last three seasons.
"They have been great with me and it was a really hard decision to leave, but I have the opportunity to sample a different culture in France. I would also like to thank the coaches, players and staff at the club too, they are good people."
"There is plenty of rugby to be played yet, we have five games remaining and three of those are at home. Believe me in that we will be going all out to finish in the top four and I would like nothing better than to say goodbye personally to all the Sale Sharks fans at Twickenham on May 16th."
The move comes as another blow for Sale who have already seen former chief Saint-Andre leave and also star three-quarter Luke McAlister announce his intention to head back to New Zealand when his contract finishes in the summer.