Cheetahs tighthead prop WP Nel has signed a three-year contract with Scottish Pro12 outfit Edinburgh and will join the capital club at the end of the Super Rugby season.
The powerful 25-year-old has impressed for the Cheetahs in recent times and his capture is seen as a major coup for the ambitious Heineken Cup quarterfinalists.
Edinburgh head coach Michael Bradley said: "We're delighted to have signed WP Nel for the next three seasons; a player of the calibre, experience and expertise that we seek to attract to the club and to serve our ambitions to put Edinburgh among the top clubs in Europe.
"He has a lot of experience for a 25-year-old prop and will bring a huge amount to our performance on the pitch and to the development of the talented young props we have at the club," Bradley added.
Nel goes into the 2012 Super Rugby season with three year's experience of the southern hemisphere's premier competition, having made 32 appearances since his debut at the tail end of 2009.
Highlights of Nel's career so far include playing in the Currie Cup Final in 2009, playing against the British and Irish Lions and starting as the only non-capped player in the Barbarians' win over the All Blacks at Twickenham that same year.
Since then his stock has continued to rise as he established himself as a stalwart in the Cheetahs' front row, starting all of the 29 matches in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Nel was ruled out for a significant portion of the Currie Cup last year thanks to a leg injury and loosehead prop Coenie Oosthuizen took the opportunity to play at tighthead in his absence, so the team from Bloemfontein will be hopeful that his development in that position will continue when he returns from his current neck injury.
Looking ahead to his switch Nel said: "My experience at the Cheetahs has been fantastic and I can't thank coach Naka Drotske enough for all that he has done for me but when I got the chance to go to Edinburgh, it was an opportunity to gain new experience and develop my game even further.
"Edinburgh play a fantastic brand of rugby and I'm really looking forward to lining up alongside some of their world-class players and living in a great city like Edinburgh.
"To be involved in that set-up and experience northern hemisphere rugby and conditions can only improve my game in two great competitions – the Pro12 and the Heineken Cup – and I'm certainly looking forward to the challenge.”
Edinburgh chief executive, Craig Docherty, said: "Nel is a world-class performer as he has shown in one of the toughest club rugby environments, the southern-hemisphere's Super 15 and for the Barbarians, in that famous win over the All Blacks.
"I'm sure he'll be big hit with supporters and will serve as an excellent addition to the club as we ramp up our search for silverware," he said.
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