DHL Western Province and DHL Stormers forward Michael Rhodes will join English club, Saracens, at the conclusion of the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.
The 27-year-old will see out the remainder of the 2015 Super Rugby season before moving to London and he goes with the blessing of WP Rugby after three seasons of loyal service.
The hard-working lock/flank has made 20 appearances for the DHL Stormers since 2013, along with playing 22 games for DHL WP during that time – including last year’s memorable Absa Currie Cup Final win over the Lions.
“It’s always disappointing to lose an experienced and hardened campaigner like Mike, but we wish him well on his adventure when he leaves us later this year,” WP Director of Rugby, Gert Smal, told www.iamastormer.com.
“Mike, playing across all positions from No.4 to No.7, has given us three years of loyal service, so he leaves with our blessing. But I know that he is determined to end his time with us on a high – especially after our good start to the season.”
Youngsters Sikhumbuzo Notshe (21 years old), Jurie van Vuuren (21) and Jacques Vermeulen (20) are the obvious long-term replacements for Rhodes, in terms of WP Rugby’s succession planning, but Smal did not rule out bringing in an additional forward recruit from outside to bolster the union’s ranks.
Said Smal: “Sikhumbuzo, Jurie and Jacques are three young players with heaps of potential and we’ve already had two of them (Notshe and Van Vuuren) graduate to Super Rugby level before their 21st birthdays.
“But Super Rugby is a tough competition with a high rate of attrition, which is why you need experienced, international class campaigners like Mike to help and bring the best out of our younger players, who we have already identified to play key roles for the DHL Stormers and DHL WP in the not too distant future.”
* Despite recent media reports also linking lock/flank Rynhardt Elstadt with a move to Japan, Western Province Rugby can confirm that these rumours are not true.