Experienced Wales and British and Irish Lions midfielder Jamie Roberts is reportedly on the verge of completing a transfer to the Stormers ahead of the 2020 Super Rugby season.
According to Afrikaans news outlet Rapport, Roberts is eager to move to Cape Town in a bid to win more game time as he eyes a third tour with the Lions ahead of their eight-match trip to South Africa next year.
Stormers head coach John Dobson hinted at a potential signing last week when he highlighted the midfield as an area of weakness for his side given their loss of personnel through injuries and transfer movements over the off-season.
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World Cup-winning Springboks midfielder Damian de Allende has parted ways with the club and made his debut for the Panasonic Wild Knights in the Japanese Top League over the weekend, and JJ Engelbrecht has linked up with the Sunwolves.
Dan Kriel has also jumped ship to join South African conference rivals, the Lions, while Daniel du Plessis currently sits under an injury cloud.
Cover will also be required later in the season if the Stormers qualify for the Super Rugby play-offs, as Ruhan Nel will depart the side to pursue his Olympic ambitions with the Blitzboks in Tokyo.
Dobson stated last year that a British and Irish Lions representative had expressed interest in playing for the Stormers, but he didn’t reveal the identity of the player in question.
WalesOnline also reports that Roberts was keen on joining the Stormers last season, but the 97-test veteran couldn’t secure a deal due to financial restrictions.
According to Rapport, however, the involvement of a third party will help foot Roberts’ wage bills.
The move adds to the growing trend that has developed in recent years whereby the Stormers look to offshore talent to bolster their playing stocks in the midfield.
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Interesting to see so many Kiwi 10's in the mix for this, and three-time Super Rugby champion Richie Mo'unga. If you have a certain level of attacking upside, defensive ability is less important in Super Rugby as a 10. ? #superrugby #crusaders #chiefsrugby #highlanders #sharksrugby #nzrugby #sarugby #allblacks #springboks
In 2015, they acquired the services of Huw Jones, whose performances at Newlands were so impressive that it earned him a test debut for Scotland, while former Highlanders second-five Shaun Treeby joined the squad on a short-term deal three years ago.
Jones was reportedly one of a number of foreign players targeted by the Stormers, with Major League Rugby-bound French star Mathieu Basteraud also shoulder-tapped by the club, according to WalesOnline.
Should the transfer from Bath come to fruition, Roberts would join fellow former Lions star Ben Te’o in Super Rugby, with the ex-England international having signed with the Sunwolves for their final season in the competition.
The exact timing of Roberts’ anticipated move south remains unclear, although Somerset Live states that the shift could ensue as early as this week.
That would be convenient for the Stormers, who open their 2020 Super Rugby campaign against the Hurricanes in Cape Town on February 1.
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