Aviva Premiership: Mike Rhodes is world class, says Hargreaves

Saracens captain welcomes the news that his former Sharks team-mate will be joining him in North London next season

Alistair Hargreaves believes Saracens are getting a world class back-row forward after the Aviva Premiership club confirmed the signing of Michael Rhodes from the Stormers.

The Saracens captain played with the Durban-born 27-year-old at Currie Cup side Natal Sharks between 2008 and 2010, before Rhodes joined the Lions in 2011 and Hargreaves swapped their native South Africa for the Aviva Premiership in 2012.

Michael is a physical player. He does a lot of work for a guy his size…He’s undoubtedly a flanker, and in my opinion a world class back rower.

Saracens captain Alistair Hargreaves on Michael Rhodes

A versatile forward, who can play in the back row and is equally adept at calling lineouts at lock, Rhodes joined the Stormers in 2013, where he has since established himself as an important part of a pack also containing Springboks Eben Etzebeth, Nizaam Carr, Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen, and was omnipresent in their Super Rugby campaign last year.

His talent and form saw him called up to the Barbarians squad for their match against Leicester Tigers in November 2014.

He joined Super Rugby legend Jacques Bothes and former Springbok Henrich Brüssow in the back row, scoring one of the Baa-Baas nine tries in a 59-26 thriller at Welford Road.

“He’ll add a tremendous amount to the team. He’s been on fire so this season and in the first couple of games he’s been a real stalwart for the Stormers,” Hargreaves told Saracens.com.

“He’s been through a truck load of work and he has brought a lot of physicality to the game; he’ll suit us down to the ground.

“Michael is a physical player. He does a lot of work for a guy his size.

“The beauty is he can cover both flanker and lock.

“He’s undoubtedly a flanker, and in my opinion a world class back rower.

“He can cover at second row, and you always need depth in those position so for him to do that is great.

“I’m personally very excited, and very excited for the club to be signing players of his quality.”

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall also added his delight to capturing a player of Rhodes’ ability.

“We have, some time ago, identified Michael as a player who could make significant contribution to the squad, playing in the second row or the back row, carrying the ball and we are confident we can provide an environment where he will realise his full potential,” McCall said.

“We’re delighted he will be joining us next season.”

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