Bedford Blues have started their recruitment process for the 2014/15 Greene King IPA Championship season by signing Nick Fenton-Wells from Saracens on a permanent basis.
After joining Sarries at the start of the 2012/13 Premiership campaign, the 27-year-old back row moved to Goldington Road on loan after first team starts proved hard to come by.
Saracens’ loss was Bedford’s gain though as the South African played a pivotal role in the Blues reaching last season’s Championship play-off final.
Surgery over the summer meant that Fenton-Wells missed the start of the current campaign and a hand injury has also restricted his game time this term but a return to full fitness gives the Blues a welcome boost as does his signature for next season.
Speaking about his opening signing for next season, Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: “Nick is a very talented back rower and we are delighted that he has chosen to join us on a permanent deal next season.
“Our chairman deserves a lot of credit for making this signing possible.
“As soon as Geoff [Irvine] heard that Nick was going to be available he did everything he could to ensure he remained at Goldington Road.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to prepare ourselves for next season and having a player of Nick’s ability already signed is a huge boost.
“His leadership skills and professionalism are outstanding and I’m excited about what he will bring to the club.”
Fenton-Wells, who was part of the Western Province side who lifted the Vodacom Cup in 2011 and was in the Stormers Super 15 squad the following season, said: “Ever since I walked through the gates at Goldington Road I have felt part of the club.
“Saracens brought me to the UK but I have played the majority of my rugby for Bedford and I am looking forward to dedicating myself solely to the Blues from now on.
“No one is happy with the way that this season has gone but Geoff and Mike have talked to me about their plans for the future and it is something that I am very much looking forward to being a part of.”