BBC Sport rugbyunion

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 19:11 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Matt Stevens agrees deal with Saracens

Advertisement

Meehan surprised by Stevens move

Matt Stevens, the England international prop, is set to join Saracens, once his two-year drugs ban is completed on 19 January 2011.

The South African-born forward was banned after failing a drug test, following Bath's Heineken Cup match against Glasgow in December 2008.

The 27-year-old tested positive for cocaine and was subsequently dropped by England for last year's Six Nations.

"I am looking forward to launching the next phase of my career," he said.

"I have many great memories and friends in Bath, but there is something special happening at Saracens and I am very eager to be part of it."

Saracens say Stevens will not train with their squad or be integrated within the club in any way until his ban has expired.

And when he eventually arrives at the club, Stevens can expect to link up again with his former Bath and England captain Steve Borthwick, who is now skipper of Saracens.

I don't think there's a rugby club in Europe who wouldn't like to be announcing that Matt Stevens will be joining them next year

Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths

And Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths believes the signing of Stevens is a coup for the club, claiming every club in Europe would have taken him.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: "He's not exactly been lying on the beach. Anyone who knows Matt Stevens or has spent 30 seconds in his presence will know that he's a phenomenally committed young man and he's magnificently talented.

"I don't think there's a rugby club in Europe who wouldn't like to be announcing that Matt Stevens will be joining them next year.

"There's nothing certain under the sun, but if I was to say anything was certain it's that Matt Stevens will return hungrier, more competitive and even more influential as a front-row forward next year.

"We've had lots of discussions with Matt and we're keen to move forward. We're very confident that Matt is the type of person, the kind of character, who will not only fit in to the environment we have here but will contribute and enhance it."

Sarries' move for Stevens will be a disappointment for Bath, who indicated last November that they would like him to return to the club he joined in 2002.

Stevens, who was a member of the 2005 British and Irish Lions squad, resigned from the west country outfit in the wake of the ban, while on a contract believed to be worth about £1m.

If he is back playing club rugby and is good enough then he can play [for England]

Former England captain Will Carling

Stevens, who made his England debut against New Zealand in 2004, decided not to appeal against the suspension that was imposed by a European Rugby Cup judicial committee.

His return will be less than eight months before the 2011 World Cup begins in New Zealand, and England coach Martin Johnson has previously stated that they would support the player.

Former England captain Will Carling believes Stevens should be allowed to play for England if his form merits it.

"If he is back playing club rugby and is good enough then he can play," Carling told BBC Radio 5 live.

"A lot will depend on what he says and how he behaves but he has served his punishment and everyone deserves a second chance."

Saracens are in contention for the Premiership title, having enjoyed a resurgence this season under Venter.

And Venter said: "This is a massively significant signing for the club - it demonstrates the scale of our ambition, and it also shows that top players recognise Saracens as a well run club with a bright future.

"Matt is a world class prop with his best rugby ahead of him, and I'm sure he will flourish in our environment."



Print Sponsor


see also
Bath chief wants Stevens return
22 Nov 09 |  Bath
Prop Stevens handed two-year ban
26 Feb 09 |  Bath
Banned Stevens set to open cafe
27 Feb 09 |  Bath
England's Stevens fails drug test
21 Jan 09 |  English


related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.