London Irish have announced the acquisition of South African lock Franco van der Merwe as they prepare for life back in the Premiership.
The Exiles spent a year in the second tier of English rugby, but bounced straight back as they look to mix it with the best once again.
Van Der Merwe, 34, is vastly experienced, having played with the Lions and Sharks in Super Rugby, before joining Ulster. He has one cap with the Springboks to his name.
Speaking about his move, the second row is excited to get started.
“I’m really happy to be here at London Irish.
“It’s a club that has big ambitions and my main focus is to work extremely hard to put myself in contention for selection. I can’t wait to pull on the London Irish jersey in the Aviva Premiership.”
London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy spoke of his delight at the move.
“I’m delighted to welcome Franco to London Irish and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the team.
“He’s got great experience and good leadership skills, which will certainly help the development of the younger members of our squad. He’ll be an important figure to have around the club as we return to the Aviva Premiership.”
Van der Merwe actually signed for the Cardiff Blues on a two-year deal which was announced in January of this year but the Blues confirmed earlier in the summer that he would be released from his contract. It seems that the Blues changed their mind on the South African which has now led to the 34-year-old signing to newly promoted London Irish.