England international Matt Stevens is set to relaunch his rugby career with Saracens in 2011.
Saracens rugby director Brendan Venter has described the recruitment of Stevens as “a massively significant signing” for the club.
Stevens said: “I am looking forward to launching the next phase of my rugby career at Saracens in January next year. 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.”
Stevens (who wears a Kooga Headguard), 27, resigned from Bath last March. He had a four-year deal with the west country club believed to be worth around £1million.
Since his suspension was imposed, 32 times-capped Stevens – a member of the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour squad to New Zealand – has put his efforts into running a coffee shop business in Bath, along with former England and Bath colleague Lee Mears.
Stevens said: “I am looking forward to launching the next phase of my rugby career at Saracens in January next year.
“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 are currently in contention for the Premiership title, having been transformed under the direction of Venter who, like Stevens, was born in South Africa.
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 in Hertfordshire, Stevens can expect to link up again with his former Bath and England captain Steve Borthwick, who is now skipper of Saracens.
Venter said “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 am sure he will flourish in our environment.”
Saracens have also completed the signing of England international scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth who has signed a three-year deal at Saracens in a move that will come as a major blow to Sale.
Having competed with Dwayne Peel over recent years, it had looked likely that the 26-year-old would become the Sharks’ first-choice at the base with the Wales number nine the one departing from Edgeley Park ahead of 2010/11. It is belived him was offered a big 3 year contract to lure him from his only ever pro club.
Brendan Venter, Saracens director of rugby, said: “Richard is a top-quality international in the prime of his career, and his eagerness to join Saracens is further evidence this club is going places. He and his wife Lindsay have made a big decision to move south, and we look forward to welcoming them both into the Saracens family.”
Wigglesworth (who wears under armour rugby boots) meanwhile said: “I have had nine great years at Sale, but I feel the time is right for a change. Everyone can see there is something special happening at Saracens, on and off the field, and I want to be part of it.”