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Elsom And Van Der Linde Sign For Leinster

Elsom And Van Der Linde Sign For Leinster

Leinster have been boosted by the news that two of the Southern Hemisphere’s big names – South African World Cup-winning prop CJ Van Der Linde and Australian international back rower Rocky Elsom – have each agreed deals with the province and will join up with the squad upon the completion of their international commitments.

South African CJ Van Der Linde, who is 28, has signed a three-year deal with Leinster. He joins the province from Super 14 side the Cheetahs.

He made his senior international debut for the Springboks against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2002 and has also featured in the Tri Nations squads from 2004 to 2007.

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Van Der Linde possesses the valuable ability to play at both loosehead and tighthead prop and has represented the ‘Boks in 50 Test matches, including all six in last year’s victorious World Cup campaign.

Commenting on his move to Leinster, he said: “I am very excited about my move to Leinster. I have always wanted to be part of a team capable of lifting the Heineken Cup, a trophy that has always been one of my goals, and it is important the team builds on its Magners League success.

“It was a tough decision leaving the Free State Cheetahs, the Currie Cup champions in South Africa from 2005 to 2007.

“But I would like to thank my family, close friends and all the Cheetahs followers who have given me incredible support over the years. I look forward to linking up with the Leinster squad after the 2008 Tri-Nations championship in August.”

Meanwhile, Leinster have also secured the signature of Australian flanker Rocky Elsom, which was one of the worst kept secrets in Irish rugby over the last few months.

The 25-year-old has been a regular for the Wallabies since making his debut in 2005 against Samoa and has agreed a one-year deal with the province, with the option of another year.

A product of Brisbane’s Nudgee College, he represented Australia at Under-16 level in 1999 and Australian Schools in 2000 before being picked up by NRL club the Bulldogs, where he spent the following two seasons.

An Australia ‘A’ representative following his return to rugby union in 2003, Elsom featured heavily for the Waratahs in the last three years of the Super 12 before making his Wallaby debut.

In 2007, he was named captain of the Waratahs. He has made 66 Super 14 appearances (10 tries) and has also represented the Wallabies on 33 occasions, scoring five tries.

Looking forward to experiencing Irish and European rugby, Elsom said: “I think that I’m very fortunate to have been able to put a deal together with Leinster and I’m really excited about having the opportunity to play in a team that I know has a lot of good players.

“In Michael Cheika, Leinster have a very sought-after coach and with Alan Gaffney also joining the set-up, it’s great for me personally that I am familiar with those two guys. It’s very rare to have two coaches of that quality together in any set-up.

“I have seen a good bit of Leinster over the last year and my impressions are that it is a strong and ambitious squad with a lot of promise. The challenge will be to play well in the Magners League and the Heineken Cup competitions next season.”