Solly lures another King to Edinburgh

Sun, 05 Jan 2014 12:03
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Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons bolstered his playing ranks by luring another player away from his former team, the Southern Kings.

Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons bolstered his playing ranks by luring another player away from his former team, the Southern Kings.

One-time Springbok Andries Strauss will add some much-needed depth to the Edinburgh midfield.

He will join fellow former King Cornell Du Preez and several other South Africans - Carl Bezuidenhout (Pumas, the most recent signing before Strauss), Wicus Blaauw (from Biarritz and the Stormers before that), Willem (WP) Nel (Cheetahs) and Izak van der Westhuizen (Cheetahs).

Strauss have signed on with Solomons' growing band of South Africans till 2016.

The 29-year-old made 56 appearances in Super Rugby - having plied his trade for the Cheetahs, Sharks and last year for Solomons as stand-in captain at the Kings.

The two-time Currie Cup winner and Super Rugby semifinalist has also represented South Africa in the IRB Sevens World Series - featuring in the inaugural Edinburgh tournament in 2007 - and for the Boks against the Barbarians in 2010 at Twickenham.

Brother to Leinster and Ireland hooker Richardt Strauss, Andries Strauss arrived in the Scottish capital at the weekend.

Subject to medical examination he will begin training with the squad on Monday, January 6, at the start of a new chapter in an already impressive career.

"I'm very excited to be here," said Strauss.

"I said during the world Sevens series that, if there was a city in the UK that I'd like to play rugby in, then it'd be Edinburgh, so I'm very happy to get this chance in one of the best cities in the world.

"I've spoken a lot to my brother Richardt [Strauss] about the strength of the Pro12 and European Cup and how they compare to Super Rugby so it's a massive opportunity for me to experience a different side of the rugby world.

"Hopefully my experience in the southern hemisphere will benefit me when playing here.

"This is a new team set-up so my first focus is to put in a lot of hard work and not focus on anything else but that.

"My first goal is to become part of a side which has been quite successful this year, and by that I mean settle in to the group and get to know the guys as quickly as possible.

"I'm looking forward to getting on to the pitch and training again, putting the boots back on and getting the body into a couple of contact situations.

"Once I've done that I'll refocus my goals in terms of what I want to achieve with this team."

A product of the prestigious rugby school Grey College in Bloemfontein, Strauss represented South Africa through the age-grades and joined the Free State Under-20 side in 2003.

He was included in the Cheetahs' senior squad for the 2004 Vodacom Cup competition, before moving to Durban to join the Sharks the following year.

He represented the province at all levels, making more than 100 appearances for the Sharks in four years - across the Super Rugby, Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup (Natal Wildebeest) competitions.

He then spent two seasons with the Cheetahs alongside Edinburgh forwards Willem Nel and Izak van der Westhuizen, before securing a move to the Kings, where he started 13 of their 16 matches, most of which as captain, in Solomons' then Super Rugby side.

The Edinburgh coach, Solomons, welcomed the signing, citing both the short and long term benefits of the new recruit.

He said: "This is very good news for Edinburgh.

"Strauss is a very mature player with a lot of Super Rugby and Currie Cup premier division experience. He did a fantastic job as captain for the Kings.

"He's a big boy, is genetically strong and his conditioning is superb. He's a natural athlete in that sense and will make a valuable contribution to Edinburgh Rugby, both in terms of playing and leadership.

"It's fantastic that he joins us now because he is immediately available for this season and will be totally au-fait with everything for when the new season starts, which makes a huge difference.

"We want to go into next season, particularly with a guy like that, being completely comfortable and established."

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