'Homesick' Ruben van Heerden Departs Exeter Chiefs for DHL Stormers. - Ruck

‘Homesick’ Ruben van Heerden Departs Exeter Chiefs for DHL Stormers.

Exeter Chiefs Head Coach confirmed that South African lock forward Ruben van Heerden, will depart the club active immediately. The 25-year-old has been permitted to leave Sandy Park during the season, and has accepted a contract offer from the Cape Town based DHL Stormers.

Having only arrived from the Cell C Sharks at the beginning of the season, van Heerden reportedly suffered from homesickness, and was struggling to enjoy live in Devon. Van Heerden is the latest player to confirm their participation in the mass Exeter exodus, yet will in-fact leave before the likes of Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dave Ewers and the Simmonds brothers.

Ruben van Heerden of Exeter Chiefs is tackled by Robbie Smith of Northampton Saints during the Gallagher Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints at Sandy Park, Exeter on 7th January 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Chiefs Head Coach Rob Baxter confirmed the news today, speaking to Devonshire Live.

“Obviously, it’s a tough decision for everyone involved. Ruben came and saw me a week or so ago and said he felt he hadn’t quite fitted in how he liked too. He also got married recently and I think his wife hadn’t quite settled either.

“I think English rugby and the club wasn’t quite what he expected to be and he was very open and honest about it and said he didn’t feel he was playing to his potential because wrapping it up, he was just homesick.

“He had no interest to go another club, he only wanted to go home, and he asked if he could look for opportunities in South Africa, which he did.

“The truth is we don’t want an unhappy player bumping around who wants to get away. We realise he was missing home and his family and now he’s picked up this offer from the Stormers, so we’ve released him with immediate effect to take up that contract.”

Ruben Van Heerden of Exeter Chiefs evades the tackle from Stedman Gans of Vodacom Bulls during the Heineken Champions Cup match between Exeter Chiefs and Vodacom Bulls at Sandy Park on 17th December 2022. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

It is a great shame for Exeter, as van Heerden had made a significant impact in his short-lived tenure with the Chiefs. The 6ft 6′ giant second rower scored five tries in 14 appearances this season, and quickly establishing himself within Baxter’s plans in the forwards.

In a financially problematic time for Exeter, the club has been forced to let go some of their top stars, with van Heerden being the latest departure. As mentioned, Exeter’s departures list is heavily outweighing any Sandy Park arrivals. Dave Ewers, Joe and Sam Simmonds and Luke Cowan-Dickie are amongst those confirmed to leave the club this Summer.