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Saints signs rival for Hartley

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Dylan Hartley has got himself another hooking rival at Saints

Northampton Saints have signed hooker Michael van Vuuren. The English-qualified 27-year-old arrives at Franklin’s Gardens from Gallagher Premiership rivals Bath, but boasts a wealth of experience playing across the globe with stints at Free State Cheetahs, Stade Français, Eastern Province Kings, and Leicester Tigers also to his name.

Van Vuuren, a former South Africa under-20 international, has racked up 25 Premiership appearances already, while he also played a part in London Irish’s promotion from the Championship last season while on loan with the Exiles.

“We’re thrilled to add Michael to our stable at hooker,” said Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd about the arrival of a player who will compete positionally with the likes of former England skipper Dylan Hartley.

“He has experience beyond his years having played all over the world so he brings a wealth of knowledge with him to Northampton which I’m sure some of our younger hookers can tap into.

“He’s ripped into training already and will offer us some great competition for the shirt in that front row this season.”

Van Vuuren turned out in the Currie Cup, the Vodacom Cup, and the Top 14 before his switch to English rugby and the Gallagher Premiership.

He added: “I’m really excited to get an opportunity to play for a club like Northampton Saints – the decision to sign on was really a no-brainer.

“Saints has a great set-up; the stadium is superb while the training facilities are also top-notch. I know first-hand that the club’s supporters make Franklin’s Gardens a formidable place to play, and I’m looking forward to having that support behind me this season.

“I’m really excited about the prospect of playing for Chris Boyd and such a talented coaching group, and hopefully I can give a good account of myself so I can push for a regular place in the side.”

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Dylan Hartley has got himself another hooking rival at Saints