Tue 2 Jul 2019 | 02:01

Saffa exodus gains momentum

Saffa exodus gains momentum
Tue 2 Jul 2019 | 02:01
Saffa exodus gains momentum
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TRANSFER NEWS: Bulls duo Hanro Liebenberg and Travis Ismaiel have become the latest stars to head abroad.

The loose forward Liebenberg has signed a contract with Leicester Tigers, while Ismaiel will join the Harlequins.

Liebenberg is the 12th addition to the Leicester squad ahead of the 2019/20 season and seventh new face in the forward pack alongside Jordan Taufua, Tomas Lavanini, Nephi Leatigaga, Calum Green, Charlie Clare and Jordan Coghlan.

Commenting on the new addition, Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy said: “Hanro is an aggressive ball-carrier and a physical player around the field, in the best traditions of South African back-rows.

“He has gained a good level of experience already for a 23-year-old and has good leadership qualities too.

“His best years in the game should still be ahead of him and we look forward to welcoming him for next season.”

Liebenberg added: “The opportunity to play in the Premiership is one I am very excited about and to do it at a club of Leicester’s tradition and standing is a huge honour.

“The Tigers fans are well known around the world as some of the best in rugby and I am looking forward to playing at Welford Road in front of them, alongside my new team-mates.

“There is quality across the squad and I’m excited about making my contribution to the team under the guidance of Geordan Murphy and the coaching staff at Tigers.”

The Premiership side has truly been busy during the transfer market as they also managed to seal the signature of Stormers centre EW Viljoen earlier. The midfielder joins Jaco Taute, Noel Reid, Johnny McPhillips and Joe Thomas as additions to the backline stocks at the club.

Meanwhile, Ismaiel, who made his Super Rugby debut in 2015 against the Sharks and he went on to earn 39 Super Rugby Caps, scoring 50 points, will also be a massive gain for the Harlequins.

He scored on his international debut for South Africa in the 2018 friendly against Wales in Washington DC and prior to earning full international honours he also represented South Africa A in their two-match series against England Saxons in 2016.

Harlequins Head of Rugby Paul Gustard commented: “I have been enquiring about Travis for a couple of months now since we lost Nathan to a nasty injury against Saints last season. I was over on holiday in South Africa in the summer with my family and I took the opportunity over a couple of days to meet his agent, speak to Travis and meet some players who knew him and all the feedback I received was that he is such an impressive individual with huge coachability and some real X Factor.

“To be capped in such a competitive position in South Africa allied to boasting a very impressive try-scoring record in Super Rugby of almost 1 in 2 is great news for the Club. What isn’t great news for me was I had to buy my wife a new handbag to compensate for lost holiday time!

“I have no doubt he will be a huge presence on the pitch for us with his excellent aerial skills. He is fast and is a big man who enjoys running hard.

“We will look for him to work hard to get his hands on the ball as much as we can because, like all our wings, they have magic in them, and we want them to show the League why they are so special.

“Initially he comes as injury dispensation for Nathan, but we see real potential for growth in Travis, so we have signed him on a longer contract to maximise his development. On behalf of the club we welcome Travis, his wife Zaylin and his children Connor and Kiara.”

Ismaiel added: “I am very excited to be joining a club like Quins with such a rich rugby history.

“There is a clear excitement when speaking to Gussy with regards to the culture they have at the Club and what they are looking to achieve over the next couple of seasons.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work with the boys and can’t wait to contribute to the team in any way possible. Me and my family can’t wait for this new chapter in our lives and we are looking forward to experiencing a new culture and way of living and I’m sure Quins is the right place to do that.”

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Saffa Exodus Gains Momentum | Rugby365