ALAN Solomons has returned to his South African roots in a bid to strengthen Edinburgh’s pack with a young back row he has termed “the complete package”.
Cornell du Preez has come through the Springbok Academy and represented South Africa under-20s. He was one of the leading players with the Southern Kings, the franchise Solomons led into the Super Rugby Championship but, with the Kings having dropped out of the tournament for next year, the 22-year-old, who can play blindside flanker and No 8, has opted to follow his coach to Scotland.
Solomons said: “This signing is fantastic news for the club. Cornell is the complete package.
“He’s very strong physically, is an exceptionally good carrier, has very good skills and is a powerful and confrontational defender. He was an absolute star in his first Super Rugby
season. He’s a fantastic player and we’re delighted that he’s coming here.”
Born in Port Elizabeth, Du Preez went to North West University in Potchefstroom, where he played in the Varsity Cup for NWU-Pukke and the Leopards in the under-19 and under-21 Currie Cup. With nine tries in 19 provincial appearances to his name, the 6ft 4in, 17-stone forward leapfrogged the domestic Premier Division into the Super Rugby set-up, and scored five times in 16 Super Rugby outings.
He said: “I’m really excited about joining up with the squad at Edinburgh Rugby.
“The decision to move was an easy one to make, especially when you look at the quality competitions that the club plays in week in, week out, taking on some of the best players in the world, all over Europe.
“I have a very good relationship with Alan Solomons and Omar Mouneimne [defence coach], who’ve had a huge influence on my career and in my joining the club. They believe in me, and I believe in their systems and what they want to achieve.
“I’m really looking forward to this awesome opportunity and cannot wait to join up with the black and red army.”
Solomons continues to seek players to strengthen his squad, but a reported move to bring Glasgow’s elite development player Finn Russell along the M8 to Murrayfield, to provide back-up at stand-off, has not been confirmed by either club.