South Africa flanker Schalk Burger has agreed to join Aviva Premiership champions Saracens on a two-year deal that expires in 2018.
Burger, a veteran of four World Cups and a winner of the sport’s greatest prize in 2007, will arrive at Allianz Park next season upon completion of spells at Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath and Super Rugby province Stormers.
The 32-year-old back row, who was a key player for South Africa during their march to the World Cup semi-finals, has been capped 86 times and was named world player of the year in 2004.
“I’m delighted to be joining Saracens. I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to play in both the Premiership and European Cup — two of the leading competitions in world rugby — for such a special club,” Burger said. “It’s an exciting challenge for me and my family, and hopefully I can add a lot of value on and off the field to an already successful group.”
Meanwhile, new France coach Guy Noves has explained Mathieu Bastareaud’s absence from his first squad gathering by saying he aims to bring a new style to Les Bleus.
The powerhouse Toulon centre was a surprise absentee from a list of 30 names announced last week to work with Noves and his staff on Monday.
Speaking at that session, Noves said: “He is a player whose potential we know and this does not mean he has been completely discarded.
“Quite simply, and I say this humbly, we have the aim of playing a different form of rugby to recent years. Mathieu Bastareaud is also capable of adapting his game, though.”
It emerged when Bastareaud signed his new contract with Toulon last month he has a clause allowing him to take a sabbatical in Japan in the coming years. And Noves continued: “We prefer to work for the moment with players who are completely invested in the France team for the next four years.” Bastareaud, 27, has won 39 caps since his debut against Wales in 2009, and has scored three al tries.
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