Ospreys have signed tighthead Tom Botha from the start of next season, beating intense competition from a number of leading clubs to secure his signature.
Botha will join the Ospreys for pre-season training at Llandarcy Academy of Sport alongside fellow newcomers, Scarlets and Wales pair Scott Williams and Aled Davies, and Namibian international, Lesley Klim.
The 27-year-old has played Super Rugby with the Kings and Cheetahs, before featuring in 16 of the Bloemfontein-based team’s 19 PRO14 games this season.
Speaking after confirming his move to the Liberty Stadium, Botha said: “I’m really excited to join the Ospreys. I enjoy the PRO14 more than Super Rugby as it’s based more on scrums, forwards mauling, stuff like that. I love all the forward related stuff, that’s the strong point of my game.
“I’ve actually spoken to a few of the South Africans who have played for the Ospreys, before I decided to sign, and they all said only good things. I can’t wait.”
Renowned in his homeland as a destructive scrummager, Botha stands 1.79m tall and weighs in at 110kg.
Having come through at Western Province as a youngster, Botha spent two years in France with Montpellier where he won a French ‘espoir’ U23 title, before returning to South Africa with Eastern Province Kings.
In 2016 he made his Super Rugby debut, playing 15 times for Southern Kings that season, before signing a two-year deal with the Bloemfontein based Cheetahs.
Last year he made 10 Super Rugby appearances before the Cheetahs switched to the PRO14 and he has played in 16 of their 19 games in the competition this season including their 44-25 defeat of the Ospreys at the Free State Stadium in September.
Dan Griffiths, Rugby General Manager at the Ospreys, welcomed the signing of Botha, saying: “Tom is somebody that we are excited about seeing in an Ospreys shirt. He has a wealth of experience playing and scrummaging against opposition from just about every major rugby nation. Working alongside Allen Clarke in an Ospreys environment he has the potential to be a great asset to the club.
“He is an aggressive scrummager who likes to attack the opposition and has acquitted himself very well with the Cheetahs since his arrival in the PRO14. He is a player that thrives on the challenge that comes with the setpiece in the Northern Hemisphere.
“There was considerable interest in his services so we are pleased that Tom has agreed to come to the Ospreys this summer and that he believes it is the right place for him.”