Lions confirm James deal

South Africa fly-half to move at the end of the season

Last Updated: 01/02/11 10:14am

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James: Returning to South Africa

James: Returning to South Africa

Sky Bet

The Lions have confirmed they have agreed a deal to sign World Cup-winning fly-half Butch James from Bath.

James had been contracted to Bath until 2012 but he will now team up with the Johannesburg franchise in May.

The announcement ends months of speculation over the 32-year-old's future, with Lions having made James as their No.1 target.

James has been keen on a move back home in a bid to cement his place in the Springboks team ahead of the World Cup - with the Sharks having previously been linked to a move for him.

"I'm proud to be returning to South Africa and to be joining the Lions but at the same time sad to be leaving Bath after four successful seasons," James said.

"The Lions vision excites me and I'm also very keen to be part of the Springboks for the World Cup again.

"Being able to contribute to the sport of rugby with a franchise that has this level of commitment to transformation and growth of the game is an opportunity I want to be involved in."

The arrival of James is expected to the first of a number of big signings for the Lions, who are now being bankrolled by billionaire businessmen Robert Gumede and Ivor Ichikowitz.

Ulster prop BJ Botha is also believed to be close to completing a move back home, while Racing Metro star Frans Steyn has also been linked to the Lions.

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