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Coup for Sharks as prodigal son returns

The new Sharks dynasty under chief executive John Smit and director of rugby Jake White continues to grow with the confirmation of the signing of England prop Matt Stevens.

The former Kearsney College old boy went on to stardom in England both on the rugby field and in television talent shows.

Matt Stevens' scrumming prowess has landed him a two-year deal with the Sharks. Photo by Dave Rogers. Credit: Getty Images

The larger-than-life 31-year-old left Durban not long after finishing school and played 39 times for England and toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2005. He played against the Springboks in the 2007 Rugby World Cup final in Paris.

Off the field he was a household name in England when his baritone voice and colourful personality took him to the final of the popular show The X-Factor: Battle of the Stars, raising £125 000 in the process for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

Stevens’s lifestyle, however, got him into hot water in 2009 when he failed a drugs test and was banned from rugby for for two years.

The 122kg Stevens holds a BSc in politics and economics from the University of Bath.

But it is his scrumming prowess that has landed the prodigal son a two-year deal with the Sharks, beginning in August when he finishes his contract with English club Saracens.

Smit said: “Matt’s versatility on both sides of the scrum and his experience make him a great acquisition to our squad. We look forward to welcoming him to our family.”

White added: “Matt has a burning desire to be a part of our Currie Cup campaign and is a great signing for us. With our front row being unavailable during the latter part of the year, due to Springbok commitments, Matt’s experience and knowledge will prove invaluable and the youngsters in our squad can take confidence from having a senior guy in the front row.”

While Stevens will not take part in the current Super Rugby campaign, he will be in the mix for next year’s event.

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