Northampton have pulled off an almighty coup with the signing of Springbok legend Victor Matfield for the coming season.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest second rows to have played the game, the 38-year-old is South Africa’s most capped player, having worn the famous green jersey 123 times heading into the 2015 Rugby World Cup – his fourth.
Matfield was a key force in his country’s World Cup-winning campaign of 2007 – he was named man of the match in the 15-6 final win over England – and he is also a double Rugby Championship winner.
Success has been equally frequent on the club scene, where Matfield has been a Bulls stalwart for the best part of 15 years. At the Pretoria franchise he has lifted the Super Rugby title three times as captain, adding the same number of Currie Cups to his personal medal haul.
Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that Matfield will bring a wealth of experience to Franklin’s Gardens.
"Victor is one of the outstanding forwards in world rugby," he told the club's official website.
"He has been at the top of the game for well over a decade now and his selection by South Africa for a fourth consecutive World Cup shows that he remains a force to be reckoned with.
"We’re very much looking forward to Victor joining up with the squad and believe he has a lot to offer the club, not only on the field, but also off it in terms of his leadership qualities and experience."
Matfield explained that he had almost joined the club seven years ago, but was delighted to get the opportunity to play for Saints.
"It is an honour for me to join the Northampton Saints," he said. "Seven years ago Saints very nearly became my rugby home and I feel privileged to be given another opportunity to join the club.
"I join Saints to make the best contribution I possibly can and I have a genuine desire to hopefully play an instrumental role in a team effort, with the aim of lifting silverware in both the Aviva Premiership and the European Rugby Champions Cup.
"For now I will focus only on the Springboks' campaign to win the Rugby World Cup but I am very excited about the journey with Saints from November onwards."
Matfield will link up with the Saints squad once his Rugby World Cup commitments with South Africa have concluded.