CAPE TOWN - Having been in and out of the Springbok team over the last few years, it was almost inevitable that Juan de Jongh would make the move overseas.
And that confirmation came on Tuesday when English club Wasps announced that the Stormers centre will make the move north at the end of the Super Rugby season.
The 29-year-old De Jongh has been out for about three months with a knee injury this year, and only returned to the playing field for the Stormers in the past weekend’s 22-10 defeat to the Sharks in Durban.
De Jongh has accumulated just 19 Test caps for the Springboks despite making debut as far back as 2010, which he did in style with a superb solo try against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The man from Wellington never quite secured a spot during the Heyneke Meyer regime, and it has been the same situation on Allister Coetzee’s watch.
Now he’s looking forward to a new challenge overseas, where he will play alongside former Bok loose forward Ashley Johnson, who also plays at hooker these days.
De Jongh is seen as a replacement for Wallaby star Kurtley Beale, who is set to return to Australia next season.
“I can’t wait to play for such an amazing club as Wasps in the Aviva Premiership and am relishing the ultimate challenge that lies ahead,” De Jongh said in a club statement.
“Wasps has an incredible pedigree and some phenomenal players, and working with everyone there is going to help me improve my game.
“For the next couple of months, I remain totally committed to the Stormers and to achieving our goals. It would be one of the highlights of my career if I could be part of a team that again reached the Super Rugby finals.”
But it also means that De Jongh has given up on his Bok chances for the next two years as he has less than 30 Test caps.
However, he will be eligible for selection during the World Cup year in 2019.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said that De Jongh’s ability to play at inside and outside centre was beneficial to the club, due to the departure of Beale, Alapati Leiua’s move to Bristol and Nick de Luca’s retirement.
“We are really pleased to have Juan coming on board next season. He has a good eye for a gap and plenty of pace which makes him dangerous in attack, while he also has strong organisational skills in defence,” Young said.
“Juan is a good friend of Ashley Johnson, whose opinion we respect highly. We feel he will fit into the squad really well next season.”