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Premiership Rugby

Van der Westhuyzen signs for Leicester

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The move confirms this website's recently-published hunch that the Bok would be the player picked to cover for the departed Tim Stimpson and the injured Geordan Murphy.

Van der Westhuyzen, who signed a letter of intent to join NEC in 2004, but will now stop over at Welford Road en route, moves from the Blue Bulls, who have won the Currie Cup – South Africa's provincial competition – for the last two seasons.

The fullback has nine Springbok caps to his name so far, having made his debut back in 2000, although a knee injury whilst on provincial duty after his first Test (against New Zealand) curtailed his international career until 2001 when he made a brief appearance off the bench against Italy.

He disappeared from the Test scene for a while before making his comeback against Scotland earlier this year, coming off the bench in the first Test in Durban before starting the second and winning the Man of the match award as the Boks wrapped up a two-nil series win courtesy of their 28-19 victory in Johannesburg.

Van der Westhuyzen was a key figure for the Bulls in the Super 12, and was one of five to be nominated recently for the South African Super 12 Player of the Year Award, following the Bulls' sixth-place finish in the competition – the highest of any SA team in 2003.

His fleet-footed counter-attacking style, big boot and safety under the high ball have made him a favourite with South African fans, while he has also served as a goal-kicker at times during his stay at the Blue Bulls.

A knee injury in the early stages of the Tri-Nations match against Australia in Cape Town saw him originally miss out on World Cup selection, although when centres Gcobani Bobo and Jean de Villiers later pulled out because of injuries, a fit-again Van der Westhuyzen was drafted back into the fold.

Tigers boss Dean Richards said of his new signing: "Jaco was one of the outstanding fullbacks of the Rugby World Cup, and is also an excellent fly-half.

"Jaco will join us as soon as is practicably possible, and will be registered to play in the Heineken Cup, although he will likely not be available until the second round of matches, against Gwent Dragons at home on December 14, while he organises his affairs.

"He will be with us until the end of the season before he goes on to Japan, and with Geordan Murphy out injured and Tim Stimpson having left for Perpignan, he will be a valuable addition to the squad."


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