Van der Merwe joins London Irish

South African lock Franco van der Merwe has joined London Irish following his release by Cardiff Blues earlier this summer.

The 34-year-old joined Cardiff ahead of the 2017-18 season but he was released without playing a game for the region after the Blues decided to trim back their wage budget.

Van der Merwe, capped once by the Springboks back in 2013, spoke of his delight at joining Irish.

“I’m really happy to be here at London Irish,” said van der Merwe.

“It’s a club that has big ambitions and my main focus is to work extremely hard to put myself in contention for selection. I can’t wait to pull on the London Irish jersey in the Aviva Premiership.”

Irish’s director of rugby Nick Kennedy saluted the former Super League player’s experience and leadership abilities.

“I’m delighted to welcome Franco to London Irish and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the team,” said Kennedy.

“He’s got great experience and good leadership skills, which will certainly help the development of the younger members of our squad. He’ll be an important figure to have around the club as we return to the Aviva Premiership.”

Irish kick-off their Premiership campaign against Harlequins at Twickenham on Saturday.