Cheetahs locks head north
The Cheetahs have lost the services of George Earle and Izak van der Westhuizen after the two lock forwards decided to play for clubs in Britain.
Earle will leave the Bloemfontein-based franchise at the end of the Super Rugby season after signing a three-year deal with the Scarlets while Van der Westhuizen will join Edinburgh.
Earle has played in nine Super Rugby matches this season and has impressed with his work in the line-outs and in open play.
Scarlets coach Nigel Davies is delighted that Earle is joining the Welsh region and is excited to work with the 25-year-old, who has also represented Western Province, the Lions and Griquas.
"This is a significant signing for the Scarlets, George is in his prime as a player and is ambitious to make a mark over here," he told the Scarlets' official website.
"He will bring a tough edge and different set of experiences from his career in Super 15.
"He gives a new dimension to our second row options and we know we need to enhance and strengthen our set piece play going into the big competitions next season, particularly in Europe.
"This is an important and exciting new addition to the Scarlets squad for next season.
Earle is hoping that by joining the Scarlets he will have a chance to be considered for the Welsh national team - once qualified to play for his adopted country on completion of the three-year residency period.
Edinburgh announced the arrival of Van der Westhuizen on a two-year contract.
The 26-year-old former South Africa U18 player has started all 12 of the Cheetahs' Super Rugby this season.
Van der Westhuizen will arrive in October because of Currie Cup commitments.
"I want to test myself against the top players in Europe so when I found out Edinburgh Rugby were looking for a player with my skill-set, I was desperate to sign," said van der Westhuizen.
"I like the pace the boys play with, it's very similar to a Super Rugby style which gives me a lot of confidence that I'll fit in well.
"I run the set-piece for the Cheetahs but, when the ball's in play, I like to be in the centre of the park getting stuck into the physical side of the game and hitting rucks.
"I'm really looking forward to joining the club. They've some real talent joining the squad and some quality Scottish players re-signed too so I think it's the ideal time to be part of a really exciting squad."
The South African joins fellow Cheetah WP Nel (prop) and former Junior World Player of the Year and All Black, Ben Atiga, on the long-haul flight to Edinburgh, where they will be met by seven other high-profile signings, including Welsh internationalists John Yapp (prop) and Richie Rees (scrum-half), Georgian World Cup number eight Dimitri Basilaia.
Alongside the new arrivals, the club have retained 19 top-performing players that have committed their futures to the club.