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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Newport gain from Springbok aid
Joost van der Westhuizen
Joost van der Westhuizen will galvanise Newport
Newport had their most productive season in recent times last term, winning the Principality Cup and finishing fourth in the Welsh-Scottish League and qualifying for the Heineken Cup once more.

New coach Ian McIntosh is one of the best in the business, having enjoyed success with Natal and the Springboks, and is a significant capture for owner Tony Brown.

The Zimbabwean's arrival should help to alleviate the loss of Gary Teichmann from the playing staff, after the former Springbok skipper opted to return to Natal.

But as one South African departs, another will arrive in the shape of current Springbok scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen.

Although the record-breaking No 9 will only be around for a season, he is a sensational signing and is set to make his debut for Newport against Edinburgh on 1 September.

  Season tips:
Celtic League prediction: Play-off stage
Welsh-Scottish League prediction: 2nd
Star player: Joost van der Westhuizen

Newport are also intent on keeping what they already have, with Emyr Lewis, Gareth Taylor, Alix Popham, Joe Powell, Matthew Watkins and club captain Simon Raiwalui all signing new contracts.

If there is any question marks over Newport's chances it is at lock, where there is scant cover for skipper Simon Raiwalui and Wales' Ian Gough.

In the past McIntosh has prefered towering second rows who secure plenty of line-out ball and it would be no surprise if the coach strengthens this area soon.

Newport failed to advance from the pool stages of the Heineken Cup last season after being drawn with Bath, Munster and Castres.

The draw this time is slightly more favourable but Newcastle, Leinster and former winners Toulouse will be no pushovers.

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