Banned Stevens hungry for return

Click to follow

Matt Stevens says he is relishing a chance to be part of "something special" by relaunching his career with Saracens.

England prop Stevens will join the Guinness Premiership title contenders on January 19 next year.

That is the exact date Stevenshe is available to play again on completion of a two-year drugs ban following a failed doping test in December 2008.

"I am looking forward to launching the next phase of my rugby career at Saracens in January next year," said the ex-Bath forward.

"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, 27, resigned from Bath last March following the drugs revelations. 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.

Saracens say Stevens will not train with their squad or be integrated within the club in any way until his ban has expired.

The club's rugby director Brendan Venter said: "This is a massively significant signing for the club.

"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."

Stevens tested positive for cocaine following a Heineken Cup game between Bath and Glasgow in December, 2008.

He subsequently received the proscribed sanction of a two-year ban that was imposed by a European Rugby Cup judicial committee.

Stevens' planned Saracens arrival is less than eight months before the 2011 World Cup begins in New Zealand, but if he is able to quickly recapture the form that made him one of England's top forwards, then a Test recall cannot be dismissed.

England manager Martin Johnson has said they would support Stevens, while the 2003 World Cup winners are hardly well-off for quality props with Stevens banned and both Phil Vickery and Andrew Sheridan currently battling back from injuries.

Experienced Leicester prop Julian White, meanwhile, will be 38 next year and unlikely to still be part of England's set-up.