Over the years, JP Pietersen has become one of the more consistent options for the Springboks.
He started two matches in the 2007 World Cup despite being in his early-20s at the time, and just last year at the 2015 Cup he was hailed by coach Heyneke Meyer as being in “superb form.”
At the club level, however, it’s been a little bit of a strange ride for Pietersen, who’s made the most noise in recent seasons playing for the Panasonic Wild Knights in the Japanese Top League.
Having been formed back in 2003, the Top League in Japan has become a respectable place for strong rugby players to stay active and gain experience, but it goes without saying that it’s not among the most prestigious leagues in the world.
That a frequent contributor for the South African national team has found himself with the Wild Knights for a few seasons now is no insult, but it certainly as seemed as if Pietersen might be able to find a better opportunity to showcase his talents (which on good days remain considerable).
And sure enough, a better opportunity has now come Pietersen’s way. According to reports, the Leicester Tigers of England’s Aviva Premiership have moved to sign Pietersen, who will make his way to England in the summer.
Pietersen will be in place for the summer matches and to compete in the 2016/17 campaign with his new club, which will represent a significant step up from the Panasonic Wild Knights and a nice chance to showcase himself as he heads toward age 30.
The English Premiership in general makes for a more attractive destination for a top-notch competitive rugby player, but the Leicester Tigers in particular have to be an appealing landing spot to Pietersen.
Although 12 teams compete in the Premiership, a handful are recognised by fans, analysts, and even betting guides as the true perennial contenders: the Tigers, Northampton Saints, and Saracens are considered to be the dominant English teams, which means Pietersen will presumably get the chance to play at the very top of the English league.
This season’s Tigers are currently sitting at fourth in the league, though a recent win over the rival Northampton Saints gave them a nice cushion at this position and a strong chance of moving up to contest the top positions.
The back line in Leicester is currently considered to be quite strong, but the addition of a talent of Pietersen’s calibre should help to keep them among the strongest teams in European rugby moving forward.
It’s certainly been a nice start to the year for the one-time World Cup winner!