Saints’ new signing Gerrit-Jan van Velze says he will be coming to Franklin’s Gardens next season with a point to prove.
Van Velze confirmed his signing with Saints yesterday and comes with a good pedigree having captained South Africa Under-19s and Under-20s.
He has found his path to the Super 15 side at the Bulls blocked by Pierre Spies, but Van Velze captained the Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup side to two titles.
Saints have been tracking the highly-rated 24-year-old for some time, and with Roger Wilson leaving at the end of the season are understandably pleased to sign Van Velze up.
Van Velze said: “My main objective coming to Northampton is to prove a point, I have an opportunity at Saints to do that and if I stay here two years it is a nice challenge and I can prove people wrong.
“I am a very stable person and not afraid to work hard. I am a modern loose forward, playing in the lineouts and in the loose.
“I am lucky enough to have the opportuniy to take my career to the next level, now I have an opportunity to play in Europe.”
Saints signed Juandre Kruger from the Bulls in similar circumstances.
The talented lock was a key player for two seasons at Franklin’s Gardens before returning to the Bulls, where he is now part of their Super 15 side following the retirement of Victor Matfield.
Van Velze says he has been watching Saints on TV in South Africa and was in Northampton recently for a tour of Franklin’s Gardens.
“We see a lot of the games and the big clubs we all know about, the three big clubs are Saracens, Leicester and the Saints,” said Van Velze “I will be filling big boots and my first impression is that it is very professional.
“The people are here to work hard and win trophies and it is as simple as that.
“I was very impressesd they took me all around from the physio rooms to the gym, it compares to the best clubs in the world of rugby.”
Saints pulled out of a move for Gloucester’s Luke Narraway because of having so many internationals, and Van Velze fits the bill of a quality player that will be here all season.
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder said: “We’ve been following Gerrit-Jan’s progress for some time and are very happy that he is coming to Franklin’s Gardens in the summer.
“He will bring plenty of qualities to our squad – he carries the ball well, has lots of pace and shows good game understanding and leadership.
“We will need all of those things as we look to stay at the top end of the Premiership and get to the knockout stages of European competition, and believe that Gerrit-Jan can play a big role in our development as a squad.”