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Van Heerden signs for the Chiefs

By Stefan Frost
Limerick , Ireland - 25 September 2021; Ruben Van Heerden of Cell C Sharks against Munster at Thomond Park in Limerick. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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The Exeter Chiefs have confirmed the signing of Ruben van Heerden from the Sharks, bringing in a much needed second row.

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The 24-year-old South African began his professional career with the Bulls before joining the Sharks in 2018. it’s his first time joining a club outside of his home country.

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter brought in the lock to plug the gaps left by Jonny Hill, Sean Lonsdale and Sam Skinner who are all leaving Devon this summer. Unlike Hill and Skinner, van Heerden does not have any international caps, although he did feature for the South Africa Under-20s.

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The big forward said he is ready for the challenge ahead and looks forward to playing at Sandy Park against the best that England and Europe have to offer.

“I’m so excited about coming to the Chiefs,” van Heerden told Exeter Chiefs. “I’ve followed them for some time and you can see they are such a good team, packed full of quality players with a game to really challenge the opposition.

“For me, it’s like a dream come true to join a club like this. The Premiership is right up there as one of the best, if not the best, competitions there are to play in. Every week is a challenge, the teams are so strong, so it’s going to be a great battle for myself.”

Van Heerden spoke with Baxter before agreeing the move and admitted the work ethic apparent within the club made the decision that much easier to make.

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“This is such a big opportunity for me. Speaking with Rob and hearing about the club, I knew I wanted to join straight away. Watching the Chiefs, you can see how hard they work for one another. There are no show ponies in the team, they graft for one another every game and that’s what really appealed to me.

“As I said, moving to England is a different challenge for me, but it’s one I’m really excited about. I know a couple of the guys [Jacques Vermeulen and Jannes Kirsten] already, so I’m sure that will help me settle in. All I’ve heard, though, is positive and good things, so I can’t wait to get started.”

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