Wasps snap up trio
Wasps have made three big-name signings for next season in Tom Varndell, Dan Ward-Smith and Steve Kefu.
Last Updated: 25/03/09 10:17am
London Wasps have confirmed a trio of new signings for next season as centre Steve Kefu, number-eight Dan Ward-Smith and wing Tom Varndell will join after signing two-year deals.
Former Wallaby Kefu joins from French side Castres, Ward-Smith will arrive from Bristol while Varndell, arguably the biggest signing, will join from fierce Guinness Premiership rivals Leicester.
With the likes of Riki Flutey, James Haskell and Tom Palmer all leaving for France at the end of the current campaign, the three big moves from Wasps show their ability to hit back in the transfer market.
"As a club we are delighted with these three outstanding signings," said Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan.
"Dan Ward-Smith one of the strongest back row carriers in the Guinness Premiership and a very high quality player who we are delighted to have join us.
"Tom Varndell is a very exciting signing for us. Probably one of the most promising young wingers in the game and at just 23 we feel he will bring a lot again to the way Wasps want to play.
"Steve Kefu provides us with the experience we want to replace Riki Flutey at twelve. Not a dissimilar player, his experience will be a great benefit to the squad and will be very good for our younger players."
Flying winger Varndell has topped Leicester Tigers' try charts for three successive seasons since making his Premiership debut in 2004, and has the quickest hat-trick (thirteen minutes) by a Tiger in Premiership history to his name.
The England hopeful has five caps for his country and was part of Martin Johnson's initial elite squad, but failed to make the cut for the Six Nations.
"I am very pleased to be joining London Wasps, a club whose history and achievements speak for themselves," Varndell said.
"Having played for a club like Leicester, the move to Wasps offers me a new challenge in a new environment and speaking to Lawrence Dallaglio, Ian McGeechan and Shaun Edwards as well as current Wasps players, there is a really good feeling at the club despite a pretty tough season. I have been very impressed with what I've seen and heard. I am just really looking forward to being a part of it."
29-year-old Kefu, a former Wallaby with six caps for Australia, joins after three seasons with Castres and also spent eight years with Queensland Reds in Super 14 rugby.
"I am very excited to join London Wasps," Kefu said. "They are a very strong club who have achieved more than any other side in Europe and the chance for me to be part of that and help continue their success is a great opportunity.
"To join such a prestigious club and play rugby in the most competitive competition in the Northern Hemisphere, will be a huge challenge and a huge opportunity for me - one which I am really looking forward to."
Meanwhile, Ward-Smith will escape what looks certain relegation for Bristol by joining Wasps at the end of the season.
The powerful number-eight, whose speed belies his size, will further strengthen Wasps' forward contingent for the next two seasons.
"I can't wait to get started and I am very excited about joining a club with such a history of success and vast collection of silverware," he explained.
"I have enjoyed four very good seasons with Bristol and thank all of those who have helped me throughout my time with the club and am now looking forward to my next challenge come the close of the season.
"I still have great ambitions to play for England and Wasps have a proven track record of producing and developing players to their full potential and I am really looking forward to becoming a better player, whilst helping to strengthen such a great club."