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Dublin: 16 °C Wednesday 17 July, 2019

Scarlets bolster back row with addition of Springbok number eight

Uzair Cassiem is moving to the Welsh region from the Cheetahs.

The 28-year-old has won eight Springbok caps.
The 28-year-old has won eight Springbok caps.
Image: Gallo Images

SCARLETS COACH WAYNE Pivac has further strengthened his squad for next season with the signing of South African back row Uzair Cassiem.

The 28-year-old, capped eight times by the Springboks, has agreed a deal to join the Welsh region from the Cheetahs ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.

Cassiem, who can play across the back row but has been recruited by the Scarlets primarily as an eight, is the third player to sign for the defending Pro12 champions for next year following the addition of loose forward Blade Thomson from the Hurricanes and centre Kieron Fonotia from the Ospreys.

In addition to the three new faces, Pivac has also moved to tie Welsh internationals Aaron Shingler, Ryan Elias, James Davies, Rhys Patchell, Wyn Jones, Gareth Davies, Jake Ball and Jonathan Davies to new deals at Parc y Scarlets.

The arrival of Thomson and Cassiem will offset the loss of Munster-bound Tadgh Beirne, who has been an integral figure in the Scarlets’ success under Pivac over the last two seasons.

“Uzair is a current international who possesses the skills that we believe will suit the way we play the game,” Pivac commented.

“He’s a dynamic player that likes to carry and has the ability to offload, is a very physical individual and has good aerial skills.

Uzair Cassiem scores a try Cassiem scored a try against Connacht in the Pro14 earlier this month. Source: Photosport/Frikkie Kapp/INPHO

“He’s currently playing at the highest level of the game and faced Wales in the recent Autumn Series at number eight. He has the ability to play across the back row but has been signed primarily as an eight.”

Cassiem — who came off the bench during the Springboks’ defeat to Ireland in Dublin last November — started his career with the Golden Lions XV and before joining the Cheetahs in 2016, had a three-year spell with Super Rugby outfit the Pumas.

The back rower has featured seven times in the Pro14 this term for the Cheetahs, and scored a try during their win over Connacht earlier this month.

He said: “The Scarlets are known throughout the world and are playing some great rugby at the moment. When I met with Jon and Wayne it was clear to see the ambitions of the club and the environment at the Scarlets is just what I am looking for.

“I’ll be giving my all for the Cheetahs for the rest of the season whilst looking forward to the next chapter of my rugby career in South Wales.”

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