Van Velze grateful for Saints experience as he heads to Worcester

SIXWAYS BOUND - GJ van Velze (Picture: Linda Dawson)
SIXWAYS BOUND - GJ van Velze (Picture: Linda Dawson)
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GJ van Velze says Saints will always have a place in his heart after agreeing to join Worcester from the start of next season.

The South African No.8 will switch to the Aviva Premiership’s bottom side, having found starts hard to come by at Northampton during this campaign.

Van Velze has only made nine appearances this season after falling behind Samu Manoa and Sam Dickinson in the pecking order.

The 25-year-old, who joined from Blue Bulls in the summer of 2012, was a key member of the squad during the previous campaign, scoring crucial tries in wins at Ulster and Saracens.

But he is now looking forward to a fresh challenge and a reunion with former Saints performance director Nick Johnston at Sixways.

“I had a conversation with (Worcester boss) Dean Ryan, during which he explained the challenge ahead,” said van Velze.

“It’s a different challenge to the one I’ve had at Northampton but it’s something I’m looking forward to.

“I know Nick Johnston from his time at Northampton so it is clear that players are looked after on and off the pitch and it is an environment which will allow me to grow as a player and a person.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment of my time at Northampton and credit must go to all the backroom staff for all they’ve done.

“I have been proud to represent the club on all levels during the last two seasons.

“I would like to thank all the players I have been privileged to play with and all the supporters who made me feel at home from day one.

“Franklin’s Gardens will always have a special place in my heart.”