The Waratahs have announced the return of 27-year-old hooker Damien Fitzpatrick who has signed a two-year contract with his home side.
Born and raised in Sydney, Fitzpatrick has spent the last three years playing for French outfit Lyon, assisting the side to win two second division competitions, which earned them a place in the Top 14.
Prior to that he received 22 caps for the Waratahs after making his debut for the Sydneysiders at the age of 20 back in 2009, where he played a key support role to Waratahs stalwarts Adam Freier and Tatafu Polota-Nau.
Returning to Australia this year, Fitzpatrick has already made a huge impact as part of the Sydney Rays in the National Rugby Championship, having made the most amount of tackles in the tournament so far.
“Damien returns from France a much improved player,” said Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson.
“He offers leadership potential and I’m sure he can really add to the team.
“His return increases competition for the hooking spot next season, which will challenge all three players to new heights.”
A member of the Eastwood Club, Fitzpatrick played a key part in the side’s 2011 Shute Shield premiership. Renowned as a mobile ball-runner and leader, he has a line-up of experience at the helm of several teams.
Fitzpatrick represented New South Wales at the Australia Schools Championships, before being bestowed the opportunity to lead his country as captain of the Australian Schoolboys in an undefeated campaign in 2008 against England, Samoa and New Zealand alongside the likes of Rob Horne, Matt Toomua, James O’Connor and James Slipper.
His form during the series saw him picked up by the Waratahs before he was again named skipper of the Australian U20 Junior World Cup Team during his professional debut year in 2009.