"More than 18 stone" - Sale Sharks sign powerhouse forward - Ruck

“More than 18 stone” – Sale Sharks sign powerhouse forward

Sale Sharks have announced the signing of versatile South African forward Ernst van Rhyn on a long-term contract. 

The 25-year-old, who can play in the second-row or back-row, has signed a three-year deal and will join Alex Sanderson’s squad ahead of the 2023/24 Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup season. 

Ernst, who stands at 6’3” and weighs more than 18 stone, plays for the Cape Town-based Stormers and Western Province. 

He made his 50th appearance for the Stormers against Harlequins in the Heineken Champions Cup in April and featured against Exeter Chiefs in the last eight. 

Ernst was a former teammate of Sharks star Cobus Wiese at both domestic and international level, with the pair teaming up for South Africa’s U20s side at the 2016 World Cup in England. 

Ernst said: “I’m really excited about this move. Sale have a quality team full of world class players and I can’t wait to play with guys like the Curry and du Preez brothers. I really feel like we can achieve great things together in the years ahead. 

“I spoke to Cobus before making my decision and the fact that there will be familiar faces and familiar voices at the club was definitely a factor. 

“But more importantly, at this stage of my career, I felt like I really wanted to try a new environment and a new culture to grow as a rugby player but also as a person. I really want to keep pushing and challenging myself and the environment at Sale is the perfect place to do that. 

“I chatted to Alex on the phone and it was clear that his philosophies match mine. It’s about rugby but I know that Sale is a club where they care about the individual too. My fiancé and I can’t wait to get over there and get started.” 

Sharks Director of Rugby Alex said: “We have a good track record of recruiting really good, young, aggressive, physical South African back five players and I’m confident we’ve got another one here in Ernst. 

“He’s a really good player, but more importantly, he’s a really good character. He’s captain material and he’s been a leader in every team he’s played in and that’s testament to the kind of person he is. 

“He lived with Cobus Wiese and I think they are forged from the same South African steel. They’re hard-working, tough and young enough to keep on improving. 

“He is joining us at a really good point in our growth as a squad, and I think we’re getting him at the same stage in his development.”