Newcastle sign Springbok centre

Springbok Gcobani Bobo will join Newcastle Falcons on a two-year deal, an exciting new challenge for the six-Test centre and yet another astute signing for the ambitious northeasterners.

Despite being just 29 years old, Bobo played his first Currie Cup  match for the Lions back in 2001, with his move to England closing the chapter on a successful nine-year first-class career in South Africa.

The hard-hitting midfield man won the last of his six Springbok caps in South Africa’s victory over Italy in June 2008, and has also starred for the SA Sevens team, who are the current holders of the IRB World Sevens title.

Starting in all but one of the Stormers’ matches in this year’s Super 14, Bobo also played against the British and Irish Lions last month, as Western Province lost only with the very last kick of the game.

“I’ll certainly miss the camaraderie here in South Africa,” admitted Bobo “but it’s an exciting and new challenge for me.

“Rugby is a professional sport and opportunities to move abroad will, at some point, present themselves. I am excited about moving to England and hopefully I can utilise my talents in another country and for a new and ambitious team.”

As he contemplates competing in England’s Guinness Premiership and the European Challenge Cup, against an assortment of Europe’s top clubs, Bobo is hoping to flourish in a different environment.

“I’ve always enjoyed England, having been there a few times on tour, and without trying to sell other countries short I felt it would be an easier move to make in terms of fitting in, speaking the language and knowing the players I will be playing with and against,” he said.

“The Guinness Premiership is a tough league and the European competitions are a great way to see new places and experience new cultures. The nice thing, however, is that I will continue to test myself against some of the world’s top players – only in a different environment.”

Bobo is looking forward to linking up with new club captain Carl Hayman – a former All Black front rower – whilst he is also excited about the prospect of teaming up with new fly-half signing Jimmy Gopperth, whom he played against during the 2009 Super 14.

“Newcastle have lost a few senior players in recent times, but they have made some shrewd new signings and they have a lot of talented youngsters who have played for England at Saxons or Sevens level,” said Bobo.

“It’s an exciting time for the club, and we, as this new crop of players, have a fantastic opportunity to kick-start a brand new era at Newcastle Falcons.”

Falcons director of rugby, Steve Bates, said: “Gcobani adds further significant international class to our back line, and we are delighted he has chosen to come to Newcastle.

“He is a player with vast Super Rugby experience who has stepped up to full Test level, and his mixture of power, pace and running lines will see him as a key part of our midfield armoury.

“The ability to play on the wing also gives us further options, and the arrival of such a quality international name just goes to demonstrate the ambition within this club for next season and beyond.

“Having captained Western Province during the 2008 Currie Cup  he has already shown his leadership credentials, and we look forward to his arrival for the start of the season.”

The Springbok centre will depart for England later this month, once all his visa requirements have been met.

Bobo becomes the Falcons’ 15th new signing of a busy summer at Kingston Park, following the previously-announced arrivals of Jimmy Gopperth, Tom Biggs, James Hudson, Filipo Levi, Rob Vickerman, Alex Walker, Chris Micklewood, Josh Afu, Charlie Amesbury, Will Welch, Alex Gray, Tom Catterick, Michael Tait and Gra

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