Vodacom Bulls utility forward Gerrit-Jan van Velze will join Northampton Saints on July 1st, 2012.
After successful negotiations with the English Premiership club, the 24 year old player has been released by the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd to join the Saints in three months time.
Van Velze represented the Vodacom Bulls in Super Rugby, but left a real marker as captain of the Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup team, which he captained to two titles.
He also captained the South African u-19 side in 2007, earning himself a nomination as the International Rugby Board’s u-19 Player of the Year.
Commenting on his decision, Van Velze, who also holds a Dutch passport, said it was the right opportunity at the right time in his career.
“I had some wonderful times at the Bulls and will always be thankful for that. I see this as another chapter and challenge in my career where I can continue to grow as a player and develop my skills. Northampton is one of the great clubs in Europe and I am keen to contribute to their objectives.”
Vodacom Bulls head coach Frans Ludeke said it is sad to see Van Velze leave.
“We understand and respect his reasons for moving on and wish him well. He has been part of our structures for a long time and is well respected for his leadership and dedication to hard work. We will never stand in the way of our players exploring opportunities elsewhere and I can honestly say that Gerrit-Jan will leave here as a friend. We might see him back in future.”
Van Velze has until now played for the Vodacom Blues Bulls 59 times in Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup and had one start for the Vodacom Bulls in Super Rugby.