Former Sharks lock joins Stormers with immediate effect
TRANSFER NEWS: Experienced lock Ruben van Heerden will join the Stormers this week on a short-term contract.
The 25-year-old South African joins the Stormers squad with immediate effect, having represented Exeter Chiefs for the first half of the season.
Van Heerden joined the Chiefs from the Sharks last year.
A lock with the ability to play in both positions in the second row, Van Heerden joins the Capetonians on a short-term deal, with a view to signing a longer contract in the future.
Commenting on the news, Chiefs’ Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, said: “Obviously, it’s a tough decision for everyone involved. Ruben came and saw me a week or so ago and said he felt he hadn’t quite fitted in how he liked too. He also got married recently and I think his wife hadn’t quite settled either.
“I think English rugby and the club wasn’t quite what he expected to be and he was very open and honest about it and said he didn’t feel he was playing to his potential because wrapping it up, he was just homesick. He had no interest to go another club, he only wanted to go home, and he asked if he could look for opportunities in South Africa, which he did.
“The truth is we don’t want an unhappy player bumping around who wants to get away. We realise he was missing home and his family and now he’s picked up this offer from the Stormers, so we’ve released him with immediate effect to take up that contract.”
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) January 20, 2023
Given injuries to the likes of Salmaan Moerat, Adre Smith, Ernst van Rhyn and Gary Porter and the fact that Marvin Orie will be rested soon in line with the Springbok management plan, Van Heerden’s arrival comes at the perfect time for the Capetonians.
Stormers head coach John Dobson said that he and the rest of the squad are looking forward to welcoming Van Heerden to Cape Town.
“Ruben is a lock with a solid pedigree, who has certainly made life quite difficult for our team in the past and will play an important role for us in the second half of a demanding season.
“We have seen quite a few success stories here with players like Hacjivah Dayimani, Junior Pokomela, Willie Engelbrecht and Stefan Ungerer all arriving initially on short-term deals before signing on more permanently and we are hopeful that Ruben will have a similar experience,” he said.
Van Heerden said that he cannot wait to get integrated into the Stormers squad.
“The success that the team has had recently speaks for itself and this seems like a really positive environment in which to play rugby.
“I am looking forward to connecting with my new teammates and adding value wherever I can,” he said.