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'Ability to play four positions very valuable': Bath sign van Velze

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images)

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New Bath boss Johann van Graan promised on Tuesday in his first interview since taking charge as head of rugby that some new signings were imminent and he has been as good as his word, the club announcing on Wednesday that they have recruited GJ van Velze, the former Worcester skipper.

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A Bath statement read: “GJ van Velze has joined Bath Rugby, adding strong experience and leadership to the club’s pack options.

“A player who can play multiple positions across the back five of the scrum, including No8 and second row, van Velze has over a century of Premiership appearances to his name after spells with Northampton Saints, where he won the Premiership in 2014, and Worcester Warriors.

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“At the latter, he was given the captaincy in his first season, leading the Warriors to promotion back to the Premiership at the first time of asking. He retained his leadership role throughout his seven years at Sixways.

“Prior to his time in England, the 34-year-old twice captained the Blue Bulls junior side to the Vodacom Cup as well as skippering South Africa Academy, South Africa U19s and U20s. Whilst in Pretoria, he became a key member of the Bulls Currie Cup squad before making his Super Rugby debut in 2010.”

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Bath boss van Graan added: “GJ has a great amount of Premiership experience which will prove influential for the squad over the season to come. His leadership ability is a part of his character that I value and his ability to play four positions across the back five is very valuable through a season.”

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In his maiden interview in charge at Bath, van Graan had spoken about wanting to tackle the huge injury toll suffered by the club in 2021/22 before his arrival from Munster.  “We have a big injury rate, something we will work very hard to get down. One of the successes of the Premiership structure is you want to have your best players on the pitch.

“We want to make sure we look after them and condition them to the highest level humanly possible and hopefully that will result in fewer players getting injured. I will have a clearer picture at the back end of next week.”

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