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Ashley Johnson © Gallo Images

Johnson signs with Wasps

Big Cheetahs loose forward Ashley Johnson has signed a two-year deal with English Premiership club Wasps, and will leave the Toyota Cheetahs at the end of the current Vodacom Super Rugby season.

Johnson, whose strong ball carrying abilities have made him a crowd favourite for the Cheetahs, decided on the move to further his career overseas, and the news will come as a blow to the Cheetahs, who have already lost inspirational Springbok captain Juan Smith for the season.

But Johnson has been sparingly used by Naka Drotske during this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby campaign and has started most games off the bench, with the Cheetahs utilisiing him as an impact player rather than giving him a starting role.

The big loose forward, whose mop of hair attracts more than its fair share of attention, was benched again for this weekend’s match against the Chiefs in Bloemfontein and will relish a new role overseas at Wasps.

According to his agent James Adams, Johnson is looking forward to trying his hand in the Premiership, but will see out the Super Rugby season with the Cheetahs.

“Ashley is looking forward to joining Wasps. He has had a great time at the Cheetahs and is grateful to them for all the support and friendship they have given him while in Bloemfontein. He still has one goal while in Bloemfontein, and that is to give his all to help get the Cheetahs into the Super Rugby playoffs this season,” Adams told SuperSport.com.

Johnson was selected for the Springboks in 2009 and played two tests in the 2011 Castle Tri-Nations, and was unlucky not to have a more prominent role in the Springbok team over his career, as he often played in the shadow of the likes of Schalk Burger and Smith.

The Cheetahs have not released any comment at this stage.

Johnson is one of four new faces at Wasps, including Welsh Grand Slam winner Stephen Jones, former England youth tighthead Phil Swainston of Leeds and Welsh prop Will Taylor of the Ospreys.


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