WORCESTER Warriors skipper GJ Van Valze has revealed his burning desire for the challenges ahead after committing his future to the Sixways side with a new two-year deal.
Ahead of Friday’s home clash with his former side Northampton Saints, the South African revealed his hopes for the future after extending his four-year spell with Warriors.
Van Velze was handed the captain’s armband ahead of his debut campaign at Sixways in 2014 and instantly led his side to promotion back to the Premiership with victory over Bristol in the Championship play-offs.
He has skippered the side during all but one season since his arrival and racked up his 75th Warriors appearance against Bath last month.
Van Velze said: “I believe this season’s squad is the strongest one we have ever had and the team have shown tremendous progression on the pitch through the sacrifices we have made as individuals.
“We are by no means the finished product and I’m excited by the prospect of tackling the challenges ahead.
“I am also extremely grateful to the support staff who helped me during my year out with injury so I am delighted to have signed a new contract.
“The new owners have come in and have injected real passion and energy in the last couple of months and I am really excited about the seasons ahead and working hard alongside the players and coaches to help us reach our potential as a squad.”
Van Velze joined Warriors from Northampton Saints after racking up 45 appearances during his time at Franklin’s Gardens. He played for Saints in the 2013 Premiership final and featured regularly in the Heineken Cup.
Before his move to England, Van Velze was part of the Blue Bulls squad and also captained South Africa Schools, winning a nomination for the IRB Under 19 Player of the Year in 2007.
Director of rugby Alan Solomons said:”GJ has played a vital role as both a leader and a player in the progression of the club and it is fantastic he has extended his stay with us for another two years.”
The visit of Saints (7.45pm) kicks off Warriors’ festive fixtures and Solomons’ side resume their Gallagher Premiership campaign following a 23-7 win over Pau in the European Challenge Cup.
Warriors returned to the top of Pool Two with a win which warmed the 6,773 crowd on a miserable winter afternoon.
The win – Warriors’ fifth in a row at Sixways in all competitions – avenged defeat in Pau last weekend and left the home side well placed to push for a quarter-final match when they complete their pool programme in January.
Warriors still managed to play some entertaining rugby before the already foul conditions deteriorated and made handling exceptionally difficult in the second half.
With Michael Fatialofa a dominant force in the lineouts, Warriors countered Pau’s pack, which had been so dominant in France, and allowed Duncan Weir to control the game from fly-half.