Edinburgh Rugby today confirmed that lock Izak van der Westhuizen will return to South Africa at the end of the season to join the Eastern Province Kings.
The 28-year-old was signed by former head coach Michael Bradley ahead of the 2012/13 campaign from Super Rugby side Free State Cheetahs.
His debut season in the capital was hampered by an ankle injury, limiting the big South African to six appearances after his early-December arrival, however he has gone on to make 19 starts in 24 appearances for the club to date and has been impressive of late.
His departure does however give a great chance for Grant Gilchrist to cement his growing position at the heart of the Edinburgh pack, and opens the door for a possibly return to the fold for Sean Cox who has been largely absent this season. Edinburgh also have a number of younger locks in the EDP programme including Alex Toolis and Rob McAlpine, and Perry Parker who is currently out on loan. Still, the vacancy would have been a nice fit for Nathan Hines had he not already signed for Sale.
Speaking of Sale, Hines will team up once again with Chris Cusiter who also recently announced a departure southwards, having struggled for game time this season despite looking the most impressive of Glasgow’s options there this season.
Edinburgh Rugby have also recently announced the signing of former Scotland under-20 centre Michael Tait from Newcastle Falcons until the summer of 2015. The deal represents a return for the 23-year-old son of former cross-code internationalist and series-winning Lion Alan, who arrived on a month-long loan from Newcastle Falcons in September.
Tait came through Scotland’s age-grade system with Gilchrist and Matt Scott, who recently re-signed with the capital side until the summer of 2016. The 23 year-old former Currie High School and Currie RFC player joined the club’s elite development programme (EDP) in the summer of 2011 and has become a familiar feature in the back division for club and country over the past two seasons, something Tait will no doubt seek to emulate.
While Cusiter, Moray Low (Exeter) and Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester) are all heading for pastures new, Duncan Weir has put pen to paper on a new deal until at least May 2016.
Also staking their colours to the Warriors mast in recent weeks have been front rowers Ryan Grant and Gordon Reid, which is good news for the Warriors scrum with Grant recently re-discovering some of the form that made him a (sporadically used) Lion last year.