Hooker Damien Fitzpatrick has signed a two-year deal with the Waratahs, the club confirmed on Wednesday.
Fitzpatrick returns to the Super Rugby club after a rollercoaster stint with French club, Lyon, where he battled serious injuries to work his way back to rugby.
The former Eastwood front rower has made no secret of his desire to make an impact in his return to Australian rugby, speaking to rugby.com.au last month about his comeback, and will be a crucial replacement for NSW with Tatafu Polota-Nau departing the club.
Confirmation of Fitzpatrick’s signing effectively rules out any potential Polota- Nau NSW return in 2017, with three hookers now on their books.
Polota-Nau announced his departure from the Waratahs at their end of season gala in September, but is yet to confirm his 2017 destination, with an arm injury throwing a spanner in the works.
Delighted to confirm I'll be returning home to @NSWWaratahs for the next two seasons!!— Damien Fitzpatrick (@dnfitzpatrick) October 5, 2016
The 27-year-old has 22 Super Rugby caps, after a 2009 debut for the Waratahs against the Crusaders and will be competing for a spot with new Wallabies squad member Tolu Latu as well as rising star Hugh Roach.
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said Fitzpatrick had changed since he left for Europe.
“Damien returns from France a much improved player,” he said.
“He offers leadership potential and I’m sure he can really add to the team.
“His return increases competition for the hooking spot next season, which will challenge all three players to new heights.”