Watson to quit Bath for Kings
December 6, 2010
Luke Watson will leave Bath at the end of the season © Getty Images
Bath skipper Luke Watson will return to South Africa at the end of the season after signing a three-year deal with the Eastern Province Kings.
The 27-year-old No.8 will quit the Premiership after two seasons at the Rec in order to join his new province, who will play next season's Currie Cup in the first division after failing to win promotion at the end of the 2010 season.
Watson gained 10 Springbok caps prior to heading north, turning out for Western Province and the Stormers, but was a controversial figure in his home country.
The Kings are currently coached by Alan Solomons, who is fresh from helping the Barbarians to victory over South Africa at the weekend, and Watson is keen to give back to the region in which he was raised. His father, Cheeky, is currently the president of the Eastern Province rugby union.
Watson confirmed his departure via his Twitter account, writing: "I'll be returning to SA after the completion of this season with Bath. I have signed a 3 year contract with the Eastern Province Kings.
"My time thus far at Bath has been invaluable. It has been one of the best experiences of my life and I'll be forever grateful for that. However the opportunity to return home to SA and especially to my home city PE, is one that I have to grab with both hands!"
Solomons, former coach of Northampton and Ulster, is hopeful that Watson can help the Kings gain promotion to the Currie Cup's premier division this season.
"Our main drive is to build a team capable of winning the Currie Cup first division in 2011 and one good enough to win the promotion play-off matches and after that be successful in the Currie Cup premier division and Super Rugby," he said.
"Luke is very much part of that vision and it says everything about our ambition that we could inspire him to return to his province of birth when there is such a demand for his services in Europe. Luke has a passion for the province and the region and our creed at the Kings is to be bring them home and keep them home. Luke is one of Grey PE's finest rugby products and he is also a leader and inspirational figure."
Eastern Province will in future form part of a proposed Super Rugby franchise, the Southern Kings, along with the Border Bulldogs and SWD Eagles. The region lost out on a place in the expanded calendar for 2011 to the Melbourne Rebels.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies