Sale Sharks have announced the signing of Springbok Akker van der Merwe from the Cell-C Sharks.
He is the second Springbok the club have signed today following quickly on the heels of flyhalf Rob du Preez this lunchtime.
The lively hooker will make the switch to the AJ Bell Stadium after the conclusion of this year’s Super Rugby competition.
Van der Merwe burst onto the World Rugby scene in 2014 as a surprise inclusion in the Lions touring squad for the Super Rugby Season. Making his debut against the Chiefs in Hamilton, Akker scored his first try for the Lions a week later against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Following his debut season, he joined French Top-14 outfit Racing 92 on a short-term contract before returning to Johannesburg for the start of Super Rugby in 2016, notably helping them reach the final of the competition alongside current Sale Shark Faf De Klerk.
After making 50 top flight appearances for the Lions, in 2017 van der Merwe joined the Durban based Sharks where he helped the team to a Currie Cup Final in his first year, winning the competition a year later alongside Rob and Jean-Luc du Preez.
Known in South Africa as ‘The Raging Waterhog’ due to his constant energy and determination around the pitch, Akker made a real impact in his first season with the Sharks, earning his first call up to the Springboks for the 2018 June internationals he went on to make 3 appearances that summer for the national side.
The hooker is currently joint top try scorer in the 2019 Super Rugby competition, with three tries to his name in two games.
The 27-year-old was excited about the prospect of a move to the Gallagher Premiership, he said:
“I feel the time is right in my career for a move away from South Africa. I have just started a family and after considering all my options with them, I feel this is the best one to take for us as a family. I am good mates with Faf De Klerk and having spoken with him, he only has good things to say about Sale so we are really excited about joining the club and experiencing a new lifestyle in Manchester.
For the meantime though, along with Rob I am fully committed to the Cell C Sharks and I will be doing everything I can to be as successful as possible in my final season in Durban.”
Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Steve Diamond was delighted to secure the services of Akker ahead of next season, he said:
“I am delighted to announce the signing of Akker. He is a world class player and he will be an excellent addition to the squad.”
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