Rugby Union: Stransky joins Tigers in pounds 300,000 deal

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The Independent Online
Not even the most fanatical Leicester supporter would claim that the Tigers were the most expansive rugby team on earth, so it was entirely appropriate that they should have completed the signing of the South African outside-half Joel Stransky yesterday. As the All Blacks discovered to their cost at last year's World Cup, Stransky can kick like a mule, writes Chris Hewett.

In fairness, however, Stransky's arrival at Welford Road should give Leicester a new dimension - one that might just bring them a third Courage League title this season. Certainly, the Tigers coach, Bob Dwyer, believes the 29-year-old Springbok from Natal to be "a complete player who can run with the ball as well as master all aspects of the kicking game".

Just 18 months ago, Stransky was the hero of South Africa after scoring 15 points to beat New Zealand in the World Cup final. But that was then. The new Springbok coach, Andre Markgraff, ditched his most experienced playmaker after last summer's Tri-Nations tournament and although Stransky has more than a year left on his national contract, he has been cleared to sign a deal here worth an estimated pounds 300,000 over two-and-a-half years.

"Leicester have a fantastic stadium, a wonderful crowd, a great tradition and a ball-winning set of forwards - and all outside-halves enjoy playing behind that sort of pack," he said. "I'd like to think I have a chance of representing my country again, but I have to be realistic; the selectors pick their side on the basis of domestic rugby in South Africa and they won't send people over here to watch every weekend."

Stransky will almost certainly not be available for Leicester's European Cup semi-final with Toulouse on 4 January; he is expected to play as soon as work permit regulations have been completed, probably by the middle of next month. He is the second member of South Africa's World Cup-winning side to sign for an English club. Last week, the former national captain Francois Pienaar agreed a deal with Saracens.

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