Burly prop Schalk ‘Hond’ van der Merwe, who will be packing down for the Barbarians against the Springboks at Wembley on Saturday, has been signed by the Southern Kings.
Van der Merwe, 25, who has played Super Rugby for the Lions, is the 29th player contracted to play for the Kings next year.
Apart from Van der Merwe, known as ‘Hond’ by his teammates, other South Africans in the Barbarians team are Clayton Blommetjies, Ruan Pienaar, Akker van der Merwe, Kwagga Smith and Ruan Ackermann .
The South Africans have been invited by the Barbarians for their three matches against the Springboks, the Czech Republic and Fiji, and will join a host of top players from around the world.
Van der Merwe, who has been playing for Montpellier in France, will report for duty at the Kings once he has completed the Barbarians tour.
Barbarians coach Robbie Deans has welcomed the young talent in his squad.
“This is a talented group of young men with the potential to play at the very highest level, and they will all be hungry to impress in their time with the Barbarians,” Deans said.
“Alongside the more experienced players in the squad, we should have a very competitive group for all our matches.”
Van der Merwe joined the Golden Lions prior to the 2014 season.
He was included in the Lions squad for the Super Rugby season and made his debut in a 21-20 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
It is Van der Merwe’s 25 Super Rugby caps for the Lions in 2014 and 2015 that will make him such a valuable signing for the Southern Kings.
“Every team needs experience in the front row and it is great to have a player with such pedigree join us in Port Elizabeth,” Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids said.
Davids also confirmed that two outside backs from the Sharks, former Junior Springbok Wandile Mjekevu and Neil Maritz, would be available for the Southern Kings next year.
“Wandile was on loan with us earlier this year and he made an immediate impact, so it’s great to have him back. Neil has come through the ranks at the Sharks and is a young, but very exciting player to have available. I’m looking forward to having them in the squad.”
The 29 players signed by the Kings for Super Rugby are: Schalk van der Merwe, Wandile Mjekevu, Neil Maritz, Irné Herbst, Chris Heiberg, Wandile Putuma, Garrick Mattheus, Yaw Penxe, Sintu Manjezi, Ruaan Lerm, Chrysander Botha, Cameron Lindsay, Johann Tromp, Sampie Mastriet, Waylon Murray, Berton Klaasen, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, Ricky Schroeder, Schalk Ferreira, Justin Forwood, Mike Willemse, Martin Bezuidenhout, Louis Fouche, Thembelani Bholi, James Hall, Malcolm Jaer,