Exeter sign South African lock

Exeter Chiefs have bolstered their squad ahead of the new season with the acquisition of powerful South African lock Wilhelm van der Sluys.

The 25-year-old forward heads to Sandy Park on a one-year deal from Super Rugby side, the Kings, and becomes Rob Baxter’s sixth new addition of the summer, joining the English champions along with James Freeman, Matt Kvesic, Tom O’Flaherty, Toby Salmon and Nic White.

Born in Paarl, van der Sluys attended the local High School before moving onto the University of Stellenbosch, where he played for Maties Rugby Club. Also part of the Western Province, he made his debut during the 2012 Vodacom Cup, coming on as a replacement in their game against Pampas XV, before going on to win the Currie Cup in the same year, featuring in the same side as current Chiefs star Don Armand.

Commenting on his move to Devon, the 6ft 6in, 103kg forward, said: “I’m very excited to be here, I’ve only heard good things about the club and I cannot wait for the opportunity that lies in front of me. 

“I’m coming to a club that is full of confidence, especially after winning the Premiership last season, so I can’t ask for a better club to join. I know it’s going to be a new challenge for me, but it’s one that I am really looking forward to.”

Van der Sluys says seeing a friendly face in the Exeter changing room already in the form of Armand was a welcome sight, but he says the vibe already in camp, plus chats with other South African players who have either played with or against the Chiefs merely helped to cement his decision to move to the Westcountry.

“It always helps seeing a familiar face with a guy like Don Armand,” he added. “He’s done incredibly well for himself since moving here, but speaking to other players who are here in England, they say only good things about the club. They talk about them having good values, a great work ethic, so I’m so grateful to now be part of it.”