Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Van der Heijden Will Leave Falcons

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Van der Heijden Will Leave Falcons

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

NEWCASTLE Falcons lock Andrew Van der Heijden has announced he will leave the club following next weekend's relegation decider at London Wasps.

The Journal can reveal that the 28-year-old Kiwi will return to his homeland for family reasons, having signed a one-year deal with ITM Cup province Auckland. Van der Heijden has started once for the Falcons in 2012, making 19 Premiership appearances after arriving from Auckland a year and a half ago.

The departure of the 6ft 7 forward comes as no huge surprise to his current employers, although the news that scrum-half Will Chudley is signing for Exeter is understood to have caught the club on the hop.

That move is expected to be confirmed by the Devon outfit later today, but for Van der Heijden it was family rather than rugby considerations which have driven his decision.

He revealed: "My wife Ella and I had a baby daughter, Ava, six weeks ago, and we are going to be heading back home to raise her in New Zealand.

"It is tough having a baby when you are on the other side of the world away from all your family, and it will be good to have them close by again.

"I have signed back with Auckland for a season. It will good to get back in there and we will see how things go longer term, but being in England has been fantastic. My wife and I have loved Newcastle as a city, the Falcons as a club and the people over here. We will take nothing but fond memories of Newcastle home with us."

Van der Heijden joins Glasgowbound Tim Swinson in departing the Falcons this summer, with South African Adriaan Fondse also expected to be absent from next season's squad and Ospreys loan man James Goode not signed up beyond May.

Scottish veteran Scott Macleod has already been heavily linked with a Tyneside switch, while captain James Hudson remains contracted for another season. …

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