Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs have signed former Sharks prop Maks Van Dyk ahead of their 2020/21 campaign.
Exeter expect to be without regular frontrankers, Harry Williams and Tomas Francis due to their international commitment in the Autumn Nations Cup.
Exeter Chiefs sign Maks van Dyk
Van Dyk was seen as a box-ticking replacement with experience in Europe.
He was part of the Junior Springboks team that won the 2012 IRB Junior World Championship and played for the Sharks, Cheetahs and Griquas while plying his trade in South Africa.
Van Dyk has been based in Europe since leaving the Cheetahs for Toulouse in 2016.
He spent a short spell at Harlequins recently but played just 23 minutes in the 2019/20 Premiership season for the London-based club.
“Obviously, it’s a massive honour for me to join a club of the calibre of Exeter Chiefs,” Van Dyk said.
“As everyone has seen, they are a team who are not only challenging at the very top end of the game, but they are also winning the big trophies.
“Having watched them, I like what I see and how they play the game. For me, this is a big opportunity for me to not only join a great club, but at the same time improve my own game.
“I know the Premiership is a very tough division, much different to what I faced in France, but having been at Harlequins, I do have an idea of what to expect. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be physical, but that is what you kind of expect at this level.
“The Chiefs have shown they are a force to be reckoned with for a number of years now, getting into semi-finals and finals, so I’m very much looking forward to being part of things here.”
Champions like what they see
Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter intimated that while Van Dyk will be asked to do a job immediately, they also see in him the potential for development.
“I think when we saw the make-up of the new season, particularly with the amount of international games on the calendar, we started to look at options around tighthead,” explained Baxter. “It’s not like we are going to lose Franny and Harry for say three or four weeks, it’s going to be a lot longer than that.
“Obviously, we’ve got some great young talent coming through in the shape of Marcus Street and Alfie Petch, both of whom we will use over the course of the coming season, but we felt it would be a big ask on those guys to play 10+ games on the bounce.
“Having a player like Maks, especially with the experience he has, come into the squad – it will allow us to rotate our options a little easier. Like every player, we’ve had a good look at him and we like what we see.
“He’s a big, strong ball-carrier, he’s quite light on his feet for a prop, and some of those key strengths you crave from a prop, he has a lot of those qualities already. Of course, there are areas to his game that we feel we can improve on, but when you look at the whole package he brings, he ticks a lot of boxes.”
Exeter will kick off their defence of the Premiership title with a trip to the Stoop to play Harlequins on 20 November.