Aviva Premiership
Saints sign highly-rated Van Velze
ESPNscrum Staff
March 20, 2012
The Bulls' Gerrit-Jan van Velze is taken down by Patric Cilliers (right) and Albert van den Berg, Natal Sharks v Blue Bulls, Currie Cup, ABSA Stadium, Durban, South Africa, July 24, 2009
Gerrit-Jan van Velze has been a key member of the Blue Bulls' Currie Cup campaigns © Getty Images
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Northampton Saints have signed South African No.8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze from the Blue Bulls.

The 24-year-old, who is regarded as one of the country's best young forwards, will join the Saints in the summer. Van Velze came through the Blues Bulls academy and became a key member of the Blue Bulls Currie Cup team as well as making his Super Rugby debut in 2010.

Saints 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."

Van Velze captained South Africa Schools and was a nominee for the IRB under-19 Player of the Year in 2007 as well as twice captaining the Blue Bulls' junior team to the Vodacom Cup.

"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."

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