Northampton Saints today announced that one of the top prospects of South African rugby, Gerrit-Jan van Velze, will be moving to Franklin’s Gardens this summer.
Saints sign top South African prospect
Van Velze, a Number Eight who stands at 1m 92 and weighs 107kgs, joins from the Blue Bulls, where he has come through the Academy system to be regarded as one of the country’s highest rated young players.
The Bulls’ website says that “they don’t come tougher than this” 24-year-old, who twice captained the province’s junior team to the Vodacom Cup. Van Velze also captained South Africa Schools and was a nominee for the IRB Under-19 Player of the Year in 2007 before working his way through the ranks at Loftus Versfeld to become a key member of the Bulls’ Currie Cup squad and make his Super Rugby debut in 2010.
However Van Velze is excited that the next stage of his career will be spent at Franklin’s Gardens.
“I’m lucky enough to have got the opportunity to come here and take my career to the next level,” he told SaintsTV in an exclusive interview. “We see a lot of the games in South Africa with Saints being one of the biggest clubs, so we all know of the team and how it plays.
“I’ll be filling big boots, that’s for sure. But I’ll be coming to a club that’s very professional and with people who work hard and want to win trophies. I’ve been very impressed with the club; it’s somewhere which can be compared to the best clubs in world rugby.”
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that Van Velze has been a target for some time and that he is delighted that the player has put pen to paper.
“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 said. “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.”
Well timed Saints after our weekend of problems. Gerrit-Jan talks of proving a point but Barfly does not ask what that is or what it refers to. Welcome to the Saints. Roger's big boots may be about to be filled.
Blimey!! just watched the ball carries vid on Youtube, he actually threw one man back from a standing still handoff!!
He has some real pace too and was really good at the base of the scrum underpressure.
Its all about interpretation, I'm right everyone else is interpreting it incorrectly!
Looks totally awesome. Can't wait to see him in Saints colours and not being called up for autumn internationals or 6N games. Words "wrecking ball" we're used above. Spot on. He's going to some serious damage and he will score tries carrying defences with him.
Could potentially be a step-up from Rog in terms of athleticism and impact, but remains to be seen if his consistency and commitment is as fantastic as Sarge's. Still, can't wait to see him in a Saints jersey!
the trouble with the new fad for*asterisks* is that people become unable to spot the more subtle efforts at humour.
for instance, i love AlanB's "welsh centre" remark above, but to be acknowledged on this board you need loads of asterisks.
i think we'll enjoy him,he may indeed become a cult figure for a couple of seasons, but the test of his longevity will be whether he can be coached to find either space or support once he's first pulled up his trees.
he's nigh on 6'4" , so not too short, and his hands look good and sticky, tick balance,tick pace, tick ticker, all look good.
i made little of ben morgan when i saw him at FG in the HC , but happily swallowed my words as soon as i saw his cameo against scotland - i would just say it's amazing what a "proper " 8 will do for the balance of back row, pack and indeed team.apart from his size and speed what impressed me about morgan was his automatic reading of the game and situations within it for a very inexperienced player.
what van velze seems to have is an ability to spot a potential disaster and react quickly to turn it around - a sort of "Horatio-on-the bridge" instinct which is important at 8. he's obviously played 8 for a long time. to dominate games over here he'll need to develop a nose for space; if you head on your own into a crowd of tigers or sarries they'll turn you over routinely.
it does look to me as though the big signing is going to be in the backs.
I too enjoyed the Welsh Cnetres comment broonie. Not all whistles too far above my head, although quite a bit does.
He sounds like he wil fit the bill at No8. From our senior academy broonie - who do you see as potential 8's? Nuttley isn't but I am not sure about some of the other names mentioned above.
To me the fact that No8 is such a pivotal role and needs experience showed in the flawed England WC campaign. The Hask played the best I have seen him but he made a mess of several things that are key to an 8. Easter on the other hand was as slow as ever - but he did do the No8 things and so we looked more balanced.
“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
the big thing to remember about SA rugby is the sheer number of good, big,strong players who have good basics (as it's the first sport from a young age of a significant chunk of the population)
england has a bigger rugby playing population, but the drop off in standard is much sharper; south africa are 5 or 6 players deep in guys who could play test rugby without looking totally out of place.
thus the standard of the likes of kruger (youngster having to compete with victor matfield at the bulls) or van velze (youngster competing with pierre spies at the bulls ) is in reality going to be pretty high.
having sent kruger back a better player , i suspect we may have been trusted by the bulls as a good proving ground for gerrit.if the others want to get in the team ahead of him, then they will have to learn from him and surpass him, which will bring its own benefits ,and there is also the incentive of aiming for his shirt when he leaves
interestingly , the bulls were poor for a longish while, were rebuilt from the bottom up by that coach who took over from pat howerd at tigers (name escapes me) who returned to SA for family reasons and now find themselves over-rich in very good players . this seems like a way of keeping players on a bit of a string while letting them develop elsewhere.maybe we will also reach that stage if we keep improving .
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