South African prop Maks Van Dyk joins European champions Exeter Chiefs

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30: Maks Van Dyk of the Cheetahs looks to take on the defence of Hendrik Tui of the Reds during the round 10 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Cheetahs at Suncorp Stadium on April 30, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Maks Van Dyk in action for the Toyota Cheetahs during a Super Rugby match. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

South African prop Maks van Dyk has joined English side Exeter Chiefs on an initial one-year deal with an option to extend.

A statement by the club said the 28-year-old was signed as cover with two players, Harry Williams and Tomas Francis, both likely to be involved in the upcoming Autumn Nations Cup and Six Nations Championship.

Prop Greg Holmes also ended his four-year stay with the Chiefs in June and returned to Australia on a short-term contract with Western Force prompting the club to act quickly.

“I think when we saw the make-up of the new season, particularly with the amount of international games on the calendar, we started to look at options around tight-head. It’s not like we are going to lose Franny and Harry for say three or four weeks, it’s going to be a lot longer than that,” Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter said.

Van Dyk said it was a “massive honour” to play for a club which was not only challenging at the very top end of the game, but also winning titles.

“Having watched them, I like what I see and how they play the game. For me, this is a big opportunity for me to not only join a great club, but at the same time improve my own game,” van Dyk told the Chiefs’ media team.

Van Dyk came through South Africa’s renowned Paarl Boys’ High School and played for his country at Under-20s level, winning the IRB Junior World Championship in 2012.

He joins compatriots Jacques Vermeulen and Jannes Kirsten at the club which is fresh off a historic double win in the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup. Other players in the side with African roots are Zimbabwe-born duo Dave Ewers and Don Armand.

The tight-head prop has previously played for Sharks, Cheetahs and Griquas in South Africa, and European sides Leinster, Toulouse and, most recently, Harlequins.