Northampton Saints’ reinvigoration of their playing squad after a lacklustre 2016/17 season continued at pace today, as the club announced the signing of South African openside flanker Heinrich Brüssow.
The South African is in the last year of his contract with Japanese side NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes and will join up with Saints in January, at the conclusion of the current Top League campaign.
Brüssow has accumulated 23 caps for the Springboks over the years, the last of which came two years ago against Argentina, before a full-time move to Japan and the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes signalled an unofficial retirement from Test rugby.
His committed playing style and clinical and efficient ability at the breakdown singled out Brüssow as one of the preeminent flankers in the game prior to the 2015 Rugby World Cup and though the rise of Marcel Coetzee and Brüssow’s move to Japan has taken him out of the spotlight, there is still plenty left in the tank.
The 31-year-old will compete with Tom Wood, Jamie Gibson and Lewis Ludlam for a spot in Northampton’s back row and they will hope, if he can reproduce his old Cheetahs form, he goes someway to replacing the significant loss of Louis Picamoles, albeit as a very different type of player.
Brüssow is currently suffering from a groin injury that could keep him sidelined for the majority of the Top League season, something which, barring any further complications, could see the openside arrive at Franklin’s Gardens fresh and ready to make a sizeable contribution to Northampton in the second half of the Premiership season.
With the club having invested heavily in their backline this offseason, the addition of Brüssow provides Saints with a premiere fetcher and a player capable of wreaking havoc at the breakdown and providing the turnovers for the likes of Piers Francis, Harry Mallinder and Rob Horne to exploit.