Watson to return home
Luke Watson felt the chance to return to his home city of Port Elizabeth and rejoin Eastern Province Kings was too good to turn down after revealing he will leave Aviva Premiership side Bath at the end of the current season.
The 27-year-old former South Africa flanker joined the West Country side in November 2009 and his excellent form helped transform them from relegation candidates to eventual Premiership semi-finalists last term.
"This has been one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make. I love everything about Bath - the city, the people, and, most importantly, the club," he said in a Bath statement.
Watson's father Cheeky, who was a noted anti-apartheid activist, is the president of the Kings, and Watson jnr revealed the emotional pull of returning to his first club on a three-year contract was too great to resist.
"I've enjoyed my time here immensely, but I feel that the opportunity to go back to my home city and to the club that I first played professional rugby for is the chance of a lifetime and one that I can't miss, both for myself and my family," he added.
Watson, a controversial figure in his homeland after commenting in 2008 that the Springbok jersey made him want to vomit, had earlier posted on his Twitter page: "I'll be returning to SA after the completion of this season with Bath. I have signed a three-year contract with the Eastern Province Kings.
Bath head coach Steve Meehan said: "Of course we are sad to see Luke leave, he has been a very inspirational member of the squad for us, both on and off the field, but we respect his decision."
Watson met Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons, formerly of Northampton and Ulster, in London last week to complete the deal, and the ex-Springboks assistant coach believes Watson can help his side, who were involved in a brutal contest with the touring British and Irish Lions last year, gain promotion to the top flight in the Currie Cup.
"This is an exceptional time in the region and the most exciting project I have ever been involved in," said Solomons
"Luke has a passion for the province and the region and our creed at the Kings is to be bring them home and keep them home. Luke is one of Grey PE's finest rugby products and he is also a leader and inspirational figure."