NEWCASTLE FALCONS have signed back rower Philip van der Walt on a three-year deal from South African Super Rugby side, the Sharks.

The experienced forward turned 30 last weekend, and will arrive on Tyneside in the coming weeks once his visa is confirmed.

Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Philip’s signing is great news for the club because he brings us experience, leadership and a huge amount of ability in a key area of the team.

“He is renowned as a ball player at number eight, but relishes the physical aspects of the game, and he will also give us another top line-out option as well as being able to play in the second row.”

Van der Walt played his first provincial rugby as a teenager with South Africa’s Eastern Province, before going on to enjoy a successful six-season spell with Free State Cheetahs.

He also played Super Rugby for the Cheetahs and spent a year in France with Biarritz before going on to join Natal Sharks.

He went on to play Super Rugby for the Sharks, and played for Japanese club Canon Eagles prior to rejoining the Sharks for this year’s Super Rugby campaign.

Van der Walt has spoken of his enthusiasm at becoming a Newcastle Falcons player, saying: “I am very excited to join the Falcons.

“I am looking forward to meeting the team, learning from their experience and contributing as best as I can.

“It is a whole new experience for my family and I. We have never been to the UK and we are looking forward to experiencing Newcastle, its people and the change in environment.”

Van der Walt forms part of a summer influx which also includes USA lock Greg Peterson (Bordeaux-Begles), Tonga wing Cooper Vuna (Bath), lock Darren Barry (Worcester), prop Mark Tampin (Ealing), lock Sebastian de Chaves (London Irish), lock Toby Salmon (Exeter) and centre Gareth Owen (Leicester).

Meanwhile, Falcons centre Dominic Waldouck has signed a new contract with the club on a player-coach basis.

The 31-year-old Londoner will spend a fourth season at Kingston Park, resuming full-time duties after two years of combining rugby with his studies at Oxford University.

As well as maintaining his spot in the playing ranks Waldouck’s new deal sees a formalisation of his coaching role at the club, having helped oversee their back-line defence during the tail end of last season.

He said: “First of all, I was desperate to get back and play for the club after the disappointment of last season, and I’m really happy that Dean has given me the opportunity to retain my place in the playing squad.

“I really enjoyed getting a taste of coaching last season in terms of helping John Wells with the defence, and it’s a great opportunity.”