Cocaine prop Stevens signs for Saracens

BANNED England prop Matt Stevens has vowed to rebuild his career at Saracens after agreeing to join the Premiership high-fliers when his suspension expires next year.

The 27-year-old’s burgeoning reputation was left in tatters after a positive test for cocaine saw him dropped from last year’s Six Nations and banned for two years.

But South African-born Stevens will link up with Saracens when that suspension is completed on 19 January 2011, and is already keenly anticipating making up for lost time.

“I am looking forward to launching the next phase of my career,” he said. “I have many great memories and friends in Bath, but there is something special happening at Saracens and I am very eager to be part of it.”

Saracens director of rugby and City A.M. columnist Brendan Venter hailed the coup, with Wasps and Stevens’ former club Bath both interested in his signature.

“This is a massively significant signing for the club,” he said. “It demonstrates the scale of our ambition, and it also shows that top players recognise Saracens as a well run club with a bright future.

“Matt is a world class prop with his best rugby ahead of him, and I’m sure he will flourish in our environment.”

Stevens joined Bath in 2002 and went on to win the first of 32 England caps the following year. He then achieved recognition with the British and Irish Lions in 2005, featuring in six of their tour matches in New Zealand but none of the Tests.

The front-rower appeared in all of England’s games at the 2007 World Cup but in December 2008 failed a drugs test following a Heineken Cup fixture against Glasgow.

Stevens resigned from his Bath contract, which was due to run until 2012, upon being banned from any involvement in the game.