The Scarlets have secured the signing of South African lock Rynier Bernardo from the Ospreys.
At just 24 years of age Bernardo is an exciting new addition to the Scarlets squad for the forthcoming 2016-17 season bringing with him a wealth of Guinness PRO12 and European Champions Cup experience.
Before arriving in Wales in 2014 Bernardo came through the ranks at the Eastern Province Kings appearing in both the Vodacom and Currie Cup. Considered one of South Africa’s brightest young talents before leaving to ply his trade in Wales, at the age of 21, Bernardo made 10 Super Rugby appearances for Port Elizabeth based Southern Kings in Super Rugby.
The Pretoria-born lock joins the Scarlets ahead of a thrilling 2016-17 season as the only Welsh region to qualify for the European Rugby Champions Cup and will become Welsh-qualified at the end of the forthcoming season.
The 6’ 7” lock is a physically imposing acquisition for the Scarlets bolstering the region’s options at second row.
Scarlets General Manager of Rugby Jon Daniels commented; "We’re delighted to be welcoming Rynier to the Scarlets for the forthcoming season.
"Rynier is a young man but comes with a wealth of experience from PRO12 and European competitions here in Wales as well as Super Rugby back at home in South Africa. He will offer a physical edge and options in the second row next season.
"Having made an immediate impression on his arrival at the Ospreys he then suffered a serious knee injury which meant he missed out on much of the 2014-15 season. Rynier came back strongly in the second half of the 2015-16 season but he know he will face stiff competition for his place here. Like all players it is now down to him to fight for the jersey and earn the right to play in the big games."
Speaking about his move across the Loughor Bridge Bernardo said; "I’d like to thank everyone at the Ospreys for giving me the opportunity over the last couple of years but I am now excited by the new challenge that lies ahead.
"I’m really looking forward to continuing my development over the next few years with the Scarlets. I have met with Wayne and Jon a couple of times and have been impressed with the culture and ambition at the Scarlets. I hope to make an impression and help the region fight for silverware and to be competitive as the only Welsh region in Europe."
Bernardo is one of a number of new faces expected at the Scarlets ahead of the new season. Joining the region alongside Bernardo will be Jonathan Davies, Rhys Patchell, Werner Kruger, Jonathan Evans, Dafydd Hughes and Shaun Evans as well as Johnny McNicholl who is due to arrive in the Autumn.
The following have also signed contract extensions ahead of the new campaign Aled Davies, Gareth Davies, James Davies, Emyr Phillips, Aaron Shingler, Scott Williams, John Barclay, Wyn Jones, Peter Edwards, Dylan Evans, Gareth Owen and Tom Williams.