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Prop Schoeman eyed up for return to South Africa

By Neil Fissler
Juan Schoeman of Bath Rugby looks on during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Saracens and Bath Rugby at StoneX Stadium on October 21, 2023 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Patrick Khachfe/Getty Images)

Juan Schoeman could leave Bath at the end of the season and return home to South Africa, where he is wanted by the Lions, who are chasing a top-eight finish in the United Rugby Championship.

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Pretoria-born loosehead Schoeman, who is the older brother of Scotland prop Pierre, also a loosehead, will be celebrating his 33rd birthday in September and has spent the last four years at The Rec.

The former Springbok under-20 international moved to the West Country in 2020 when Port Elizabeth-based former Super Rugby and Pro 14 outfit Southern Kings was disbanded after going into voluntary liquidation.

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Schoeman has also played for the Blue Bulls and Sharks since making his professional debut in the 2011 Currie Cup shortly after returning from the Under-20 World Cup.

He has played 22 games for Bath this season. Seventeen appearances have come off the bench with three starts in the Premiership and two in the Premiership Cup.

Bath earlier this week announced that lock and former RAF technician Josh McNally, 33, would join Benetton-bound full-back Matt Gallagher and tight-head Johannes Jonker who is off to play for Grenoble in leaving the club.

Bath boss Johann van Graan has already secured himself a replacement, with former Western Force and Northampton Saints ace Francois Van Wyk set to arrive from Premiership rivals Leicester Tigers.

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The Lions have been looking to strengthen their front row but had a tighthead high up on their shopping list for next season, so the news that they are having talks with a loosehead is a surprise.

So far the only confirmed arrival to strengthen Ivan van Rooyen’s side in Johannesburg is former Sharks and Gloucester hooker Franco Marais who has been signed from Johan Ackermann’s Urayasu D-Rocks.

Schoeman’s younger brother, who plays for Edinburgh in the URC, qualified for Scotland via residency and has earned 31 Test caps to date.

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