Neil Best is on his way to Worcester next season in a bid to get himself back in the running for a World Cup spot in 2011.
The former Ulster and Ireland flanker moved to Northampton in 2008 and was enjoying a resurgence in form. But after an 18-week suspension for gouging he has struggled to nail down his spot, making it harder to add to his 18 international caps.
He was again on the bench for Northampton against Munster at Thomond Park last Friday in the Heineken Cup before being pressed into action in the second half. Ironically his former Ulster colleague Roger Wilson, playing at number eight for Northampton, was very close to being the visitors’ man of the match.
Best will now be up against Pat Sanderson for the openside spot at Sixways, no meagre competition.
He was selected in the Ireland A side in November and scored a try in the 48-19 win over Tonga, but has not played for Ireland since the World Cup in 2007.
“I'm delighted that Neil Best has decided to join Warriors next season,” said Director of Rugby Mike Ruddock. “He is a highly respected figure in British and Irish rugby and brings with him a wealth of experience at international level and a no nonsense approach combined with intelligence and skill.
“Neil is just the sort of player we need in our squad and I know he will add leadership to our team and will always lead from the front.
“This is a great signing for Worcester Warriors and we look forward to welcoming him to Sixways.”
Best said he was excited about his move to Worcester and had been impressed by the ambition and future plans at Warriors.
“In terms of the city, Worcester has a real rugby feel to it, very much like Northampton, and the club is held in high esteem by the people who really want it to do well,” he said. “I met Mike Ruddock and, although I knew about him as a coach and his ethos, his passion and ambition for success can only rub off on you.
“I'm a professional and will do absolutely everything I can to make sure the club is now as successful as we can be this season.
“After that I have a new challenge at Worcester Warriors from next season and I'm looking forward to it.”