VIDEO: Former Saints star signs up for Strictly Come Dancing

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Former Saints and England star Ben Cohen is swapping the rugby pitch for the dancefloor as he takes part in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.

The rugby World Cup winner, who played more than 150 times for Northampton Saints and 57 times for England, has been unveiled as one of the contestants aiming to win the glitterball trophy in the BBC One hit show.

Ben Cohen during his time at Franklin's Gardens

Ben Cohen during his time at Franklin's Gardens

Saints legend Ben, 34, will take to the dancefloor alongside a string of celebrities, including singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, fashion designer Julien Macdonald, Coronation Street’s Natalie Gumede, Hairy Biker Dave Myers and Dragons Den star Deborah Meaden.

Other dancers are Mark Benton, James Bond actress Fiona Fullerton, Ashley Taylor Dawson from Hollyoaks, Patrick Robinson from Casualty and model Abbey Clancy.

BBC breakfast presenter Susanna Reid, Countdown star Rachel Riley, model and TV presenter Abbey Clancy, golfer Tony Jacklin and television personality Vanessa Feltz complete the line-up.

The Franklin’s Gardens’ favourite retired from the sport to concentrate on running his charitable foundation, combating bullying and homophobia, in 2011.

Ben, who was mistakenly introduced as “openly gay” by Commons Speaker John Bercow during an event earlier this year, is 30 per cent deaf in each ear.

He said: “For me it’s all about the mental side of it.

“The physical side is going to be tough but I don’t think that’s really going to be my biggest problem.

“The psychological side for me is what will win or lose me that dance.”

The amateur dancers will all be aiming to follow in the footsteps of last year’s victor, the Olympic medal-winning gymnast Louis Smith.

Sir Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly will continue to host the show on Saturday evenings, while the Sunday results show will see Daly joined by Claudia Winkleman.