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Cheetah to join Kings, via Edinburgh

Mon, 10 Mar 2014 11:53
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I have a lot of respect for the way they are doing things in PE
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The Eastern Province Kings have made their first big-name signing ahead of the Port Elizabeth team's return to the Currie Cup competition.

Edinburgh confirmed that lock Izak van der Westhuizen will return to South Africa at the end of the season - at the end of May - to join the Kings.

The 28-year-old was signed by former head coach Michael Bradley ahead of the 2012/13 campaign, from the Cheetahs Super Rugby franchise.

His debut season in the Scottish capital was hampered by an ankle injury, limiting the big South African to six appearances after his early-December arrival.

However, he has gone on to make 19 starts in 24 appearances for the club to date.

During his second season, Van der Westhuizen and wife Bonita also celebrated the birth of their now six-month old daughter, and he explained the chance to move closer to home played a big part in his decision.

"I am very excited about the new challenge ahead for myself, said Van der Westhuizen, who is well known for his great line-out and restart abilities.

"In the last Super Rugby season I gained a lot of respect for the Kings and the way they are doing things in PE, and hope I can add to that in a positive way.

"I've really enjoyed my time at Edinburgh, especially in the last couple of months without injury," he added.

"I'm settled in Edinburgh and really enjoy the city, but I'm from a very tight-knit family and the chance to be closer to them was one of the biggest, most important reasons - we'll be a one hour away instead of 11.

"Scotland will always have a special place for me and I'll be able to look back on a lot of good times.

"Thanks to everyone for their support during my time here."

Head coach Alan Solomons added: "Sakkie Van der Westhuizen] has done a splendid job for us this year and will continue to do so until the end of the season.

"An opportunity has presented itself back in his home country that suits him and his young family. I'm sure he will make a valuable contribution at the Kings."

After following up promising showings in the South African Under-18 Academy, Van der Westhuizen was called up to the Cheetah's Under-19 and Under-21 sides before progressing to the senior squad at the age of 24 - with a Super Rugby debut against the Brumbies in 2010.

A groin injury meant he played only a handful of Super Rugby games during the 2011 season, but he returned to become a mainstay in the Cheetahs pack, starting all 12 of the Cheetahs matches in 2012.

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