Smit: ‘Stevens is a great acquisition’

Former England and British & Irish Lions prop Matt Stevens has agreed to return home to Durban at the end of this season and play for the Sharks.

The 31-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the Sharks, who played a Super Rugby warm-up match in London last month, and will be leaving Saracens. The English Premiership club has strong ties with South African rugby but of late there has been a very strong link with the Sharks after John Smit ended his career with the English club and then returned to Durban to become Sharks CEO.

'Matt’s versatility on both sides of the scrum and his experience makes him a great acquisition to our squad,' said Smit.

While Stevens can play on either side of the front row, he will have a battle on his hands for selection as the Sharks have first-choice Springbok props Beast Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis in their squad. However, there will be a need for him when the usual starters are off on national duty.

'Matt has a burning desire to be a part of our Currie Cup campaign,' said Sharks director of rugby Jake White. 'With our front row being unavailable during the latter part of the year, due to Springbok commitments, Matt’s experience and knowledge will prove invaluable and the youngsters in our squad can take confidence from having a senior guy in the front row.'

Stevens played 44 Tests for England after he moved to Bath in 2002 and was a British & Irish Lion in 2005 and 2013. He was tested positive for recreational drugs in 2009 and was banned for two years but came back an inspired player and won a Premiership title in 2010-11 with Saracens.

Photo: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt