Former Springboks scrum-half Francois Hougaard is returning to South Africa after signing a deal to join the Sharks.
Hougaard will link up with the Durban-based side on a short-term basis ahead of the 2023/24 United Rugby Championship season.
The ex-Bulls number nine, who can also play on the wing, left South Africa in 2016 to join Worcester Warriors.
Francois Hougaard returns to South Africa
He spent five years at the Premiership club before joining Wasps ahead of the 2021/22 season. After the side entered administration and were ultimately relegated, Hougaard signed a short-term deal with Saracens.
However, he was left without a club once again, as Saracens did not offer the 35-year-old a contract extension at the end of the season.
With Jaden Hendrikse and Grant Williams set to represent South Africa at the Rugby World Cup, the Sharks have moved to sign Hougaard as scrum-half cover for during and after the global tournament.
He brings a wealth of experience to the Sharks, having played 46 Test matches for the Springboks and won three Super Rugby titles with the Bulls, where he played over 130 games.
He is set to compete with the likes of Bradley Davids, Tiaan Fourie, and Cameron Wright for a starting role, while the likes of Hendrikse and Williams are with the Springboks.
New Sharks signings and departures
Hougaard is the eighth senior signing for the Sharks, who have also announced the arrivals of Springbok props Coenie Oosthuizen and Vincent Koch.
Currie Cup-winning prop IG Prinsloo and centre Diego Appollis have also joined the side from the Pumas, as have Cheetahs duo George Cronje (back-rower) and Siya Masuku (fly-half).
2018 World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year, Aphiwe Dyantyi, has also linked up with the side, having served a four-year doping suspension.
Those signings off-set the long list of departures that includes Springboks Thomas du Toit (Bath) and Siya Kolisi (Racing 92). as well as Carlu Sadie (Bordeaux), Kuthta Mchunu (Bulls), Thembelani Bholi (Valence Romans), Henco Venter (Glasgow Warriors), Mpilo Gumede (Bulls), Fred Zeilinga (Bourg-en-Bresse), Ben Tapuai (Bordeaux) and Thaakir Abrahams (Lyon).
Finally, the Sharks also confirmed a change in the coaching box with John Plumtree returning to the side as head coach.
READ MORE: All Blacks v Springboks: Five takeaways from Rugby World Cup warm-up clash as South Africa dominate at Twickenham
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