SOUTH AFRICAN back-row Ruan Steenkamp has joined Edinburgh on a short-term deal from Super Rugby side Vodacom Bulls. The former South Africa Under-20s captain joins the club subject to a medical and will provide cover during the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Three Edinburgh back-row players – Hamish Watson, John Barclay and Jamie Ritchie – were named in Gregor Townsend’s World Cup squad yesterday [Tuesday] and with Viliame Mata set to represent Fiji, they have been left bare in this area
Steenkamp – who is 26-year-old and has played both flanker and No8 in Super Rugby – was heavily involved as the Bulls reached the knockout stages of the competition for the first time since 2013 this season.
“I’m really honoured to join Edinburgh Rugby and I can’t wait to link up with my new teammates,” he said. “I know a lot about the club having spoken to the South African boys in Scotland and I’m hugely privileged to have been given the chance to represent such a historic side.
“This will be my first time travelling to Scotland, so I can’t wait to make the most of this opportunity while sampling a new and exciting rugby culture.”
Head coach Richard Cockerill reckons the new recruit can have a big impact at the club. “Ruan is a hard running and abrasive back-row player that plays with a real edge,” he said. “He has all the qualities that you look for in a flanker while his physicality brings a different dynamic to our pack. We’re really happy to have him on board.
“We will obviously be short handed in the back-row in the early stages of the season due to World Cup selection, so to have a player of Ruan’s quality adding depth to the squad is a real coup for the club.
“He has shown in both Super Rugby and the Currie Cup that he has the ability to turn a match in your favour – whether that is through his carrying or tenacity in defence – so we can’t wait to see what he’ll bring to this club.”