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'Will add great value': Leicester back row Brink heads home to URC

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

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The recent trend of South African players being signed to bolster Gallagher Premiership leaders Leicester has finally been reversed, United Rugby Championship (URC) newcomers the Bulls announcing the capture of Tigers back-rower Cyle Brink. Hanro Liebenberg, Jaco Taute, Jasper Wiese, Marco van Staden, Francois van Wyk and Kobus van Wyk – along with Brink – have all been part of the 2021/22 squad under Steve Borthwick which next season will be bolstered by the arrival of Handre Pollard. 

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With the salary cap tightening in England it was inevitable something might give and soon-to-be 28-year-old Brink, whose only Premiership start this season came against Bath on the same weekend of the Autumn Nations Series action in early November, will now link up with the Jake White-coached URC franchise in Pretoria after December 31 following his early release from his contract in England.  

A member of the Springboks squad in 2018, the versatile back-rower joined Leicester in summer 2020 after the plug had been pulled on the old Super Rugby tournament where the South African teams went head to head with opposition from Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.  

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Brink went on to make a total of 19 appearances for Leicester, twelve as a starter, but the immense competition in Borthwick’s back row has resulted in him seeking out a fresh challenge back home where he originally broke through as a member of the South African U20s World Cup side in 2014 and spent six years with the Lions before joining Leicester. 

The Bulls have found the switch to URC from Super Rugby testing, their maiden season in the tournament resulting in just a single win so far in five outings, form only good enough for a 15th from 16 teams ranking. A statement announcing their new signing read: “We are excited to announce explosive loose-forward Cyle Brink as the latest addition to the squad. Renowned as a barnstorming runner and an ace at the breakdown, Brink is expected to add depth and experience to a talented group of loose-forwards at the Vodacom Bulls.”

“We are very happy to have secured the services of Cyle Brink,” said Bulls boss White. “Cyle is an exceptionally gifted athlete who has proven himself as a world-class rugby player from his time at the Lions and now at Leicester. We have no doubt that he will add great value to the squad, both on and off the field, and will equally contribute with his stellar performances, experience and leadership qualities. We look forward to seeing him in the blue jumper.”

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Leicester boss Borthwick added: “Cyle has had an interrupted time with us after joining during the first lockdown but he has worked tirelessly every day he has been here to get himself in the best possible condition to develop as a player and to do everything he can to help the team.

“He has been a really important part of the Leicester Tigers squad during this rebuild. An opportunity for him has come up in the new year, back home in South Africa, and we wish Cyle all the best in this next chapter with the Bulls. I want to thank him for his contribution to our club and the part he played in the very early stages of this journey we are on.”

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