Botha swapping Saracens for Sharks

Saracens lock Mouritz Botha is heading back to South Africa
Saracens lock Mouritz Botha is heading back to South Africa

Saracens' England international lock Mouritz Botha is to leave the Aviva Premiership club and join South African Super Rugby franchise The Sharks.

Saracens said they had "reluctantly released" 32-year-old Botha, who will join the Durban-based Sharks with effect from January 1.

" Mouritz has been a massive part of our squad and our culture for the past five-and-a-half seasons, and we are very sorry to see him leave," Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said.

"However, this is a great opportunity to play for one of the top teams in Super Rugby, and we wish him well."

South Africa-born Botha joined Saracens from Bedford in 2009, and has so far made 142 first team appearances.

Having qualified for England on residency, he made his Test debut as a replacement against 2011 World Cup warm-up opponents Wales at Twickenham before going on to start every game of England's 2012 RBS 6 Nations campaign.

He won 10 caps, the last of which was against South Africa in November 2012.

Botha said: " Saracens will always be important to me, and it's difficult to leave so many friends in what remains a unique sporting environment.

"But the Sharks are trying to build something special in Durban. This will be a great rugby challenge for me, and a great adventure for my young family."

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