Sale Sharks have announced the signing of South African International Lood De Jager from the Vodacom Bulls.
De Jager has signed a 3-year contract with the club and will arrive in Manchester ahead of the 19/20 Gallagher Premiership season following the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The 26-year-old started his career with the Toyota Cheetahs and quickly burst into the spotlight after a stellar first season. The 6ft 9in powerhouse went on to make 40 Super Rugby appearances for the Bloemfontein based franchise and was rewarded for his outstanding form in 2015, winning the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year award.
Known in Super Rugby for his superior physical presence, the 125kg second-row was quickly recognised by the Springbok hierarchy as an upcoming talent and was selected for the national side in May 2014, at just 21 years old. The experienced line-out operator has now won a total of 38 caps for South Africa.
In 2016 De Jager made the switch from Bloemfontein to Pretoria, signing for the Vodacom Bulls ahead of the 2017 Super Rugby Season. He has gone on to make 20 appearances for the Bulls, and was awarded the captaincy ahead of the 2019 season.
Steve Diamond Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Said:
“I am extremely pleased to secure the services Lood for the 2019/20 season. He is a world class line-out operator with lots of experience at the highest level and offers a huge physical presence around the pitch. Lood’s signing is a statement of intent in our endeavour to become a force in the Gallagher Premiership and Europe over the next three years.”
Commenting on the recent announcement Lood said:
“Firstly it is a great honour for me to join Sale Sharks, they are a club with great tradition and really high ambitions and they are building something really special. It’s exciting to be a part of and Im looking forward to joining up with the guys in Manchester later in the year.”
Remember this tussle he had with fellow Springbok Eben Etzebeth?
The club also announced that Dorian West has taken a permanent role as forwards coach at the club.
Dorian joined the club on an interim basis in September 2018 and, working alongside Pete Angelsea had an instant impact on the Sharks set piece.
The former World Cup winner has a wealth of experience both as a player and a coach, having overseen the England U20’s forwards after the conclusion of his illustrious playing career, but most notably guiding Northampton Saints to their most successful season of all time in 2015. The Saints, under West and former Sale captain Jim Mallinder, finished top of the Premiership table that year only to lose out on the title to Saracens in the grand final in May.
Commenting on the news Dorian said:
“I am delighted to have signed a permanent deal at Sale, I have really enjoyed the last 8 months with the Club and I can already see progress being made within the team.”
“The ambition and direction being shown by Dimes and supported by our owners Simon and Ged is second to none and to say I am excited for what the future holds, would be an understatement.”
“I would like to thank Steve for giving me such a great opportunity and we are looking forward to finishing the Gallagher Premiership season on a high, and building on the improvements we have made this year to create a formidable pack capable of challenging at the top of the professional game.”
Sharks Director of Rugby Steve Diamond said:
“Earlier in the season it became apparent that we needed some extra bite within our forwards and some organisation within our set piece.”
“Dorian has an abundance of experience within the game and met all the required criteria we were looking for in a coach.”
“Since joining ‘Nobby’ has fitted into the environment at Carrington seamlessly and his hard work and commitment is already showing dividends.”
Leicester Tigers head coach, Dan McKellar said: “The group, players and staff were on the go for 23 weeks straight so getting away from the game for a period was really beneficial and we’ve come back in enthused for this challenge this week.
“Ealing are a team full of experience and quality, so we’ll have to be at our best to get the result we want, on a big day for the likes of Hanro and Finn.
“It’s fitting that Hanro leads us on his 100th game. He carried a lot of the leadership burden during the World Cup and continues to be someone the boys can count on to lead with his actions.”
Scott MacLeod is returning to Newcastle Falcons as line-out coach, with the former Scotland lock on board until at least the end of the season.
The Hawick native spent 11 years with the Falcons, making 61 appearances as a player before joining the coaching team in 2016.
Having departed Kingston Park last summer MacLeod will now return to impart his expertise, combining coaching commitments with working for his family’s business in the Scottish Borders.
Newcastle Falcons’ consultant director of rugby Steve Diamond said: “Scott is a well-respected line-out specialist who can help us make some big gains in that area between now and the end of the season.
“He knows and loves the club, he’s very well regarded here and I’m looking forward to getting him back involved.
“We’ve initially said it’s until the end of the season and I know Scott has other business commitments, but if it works well for both parties over the next few months then we’ll be happy to look at extending it beyond that.”
Capped 24 times by Scotland in a playing career which also saw him starring for Border Reivers, Edinburgh, Scarlets, Kobelco Steelers and Newcastle, the set-piece specialist is relishing the prospect of reinvigorating the Falcons’ line-out during the remainder of the season.
MacLeod said: “Our line-out has consistently been in the top four of the Premiership over the past few years, so hopefully I can come in and help get us back up there.
“I’ve been watching the games from afar this season because Newcastle Falcons is still a big part of my life, even though I’ve not been personally involved since the summer. I just want to come in and make a positive difference, get us back to where we should be and help the boys.”
Having spent more than a decade at Kingston Park as a player and coach, MacLeod insisted the opportunity to return was just too good to pass up.
“I’ve missed the place a lot,” said the 44-year-old.
“I’m now working for my family’s business, MacLeod Glass, up in Hawick, but I’m sure any sportsperson will tell you they miss being in and around that team environment. It’s certainly very different going from a Premiership rugby club to working in a factory every day, and it’s been a shock to the system.
“I’ll now get to combine both, and I’ve missed being involved with the professional game. I’ve been coaching my son’s S2 side to get my rugby fix, but I’m buzzing to be back with the Falcons. It’s a really special club for me.”
Setting out with one clear aim, the Scot said: “I just want us to get our identity back.
“I’ll come in, assess our strengths and our weaknesses and come up with a plan accordingly. I know some of the players really well and I don’t know others at all, but luckily with us having this big break before our next game it’s absolutely ideal timing for getting things in place.
“One thing you have to bear in mind with Newcastle is how bad the weather is, in terms of how much you can push it in the line-out, but I just want to get the confidence back into the boys.
“It’s about simple things being done well on a consistent basis, and I’m starting this week to help put it in motion.
“I’ve got a few weeks to get to know the guys I’ve not worked with before, see how it all ties in with the lads I already know and then knit it all together into a game plan which works best for the team.
“As I say, I just want us to have that Newcastle Falcons identity again when it comes to the line-out, and I’m really positive about things. We’ll see how it works between now and the end of the season, and if everyone’s happy then we can see where it goes.”
Newcastle Falcons’ next home game is against Leicester Tigers on Good Friday (March 29), with tickets on sale for the 7.45pm kick-off by clicking here.