London (AFP) - Highly-rated South African backrow forward Jono Ross will play English Premiership rugby next season after signing for Sale Sharks from Top 14 outfit Stade Francais on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old, who is eligible to play for England through his grandmother, had been under contract with Stade until 2020 and played in their French title-winning side in 2015.
His move is an abrupt about-turn after indicating in February he would remain at the French club.
However, he decided to cut short his stay in France -- he joined Stade in 2014 -- and sign on for three years with Sale, adding to the exodus at the Paris-based side.
"I am really looking forward to this career move," he told the Sale website.
"I heard that Steve Diamond (rugby director) was showing interest in me joining the club and I met up with him a few weeks ago.
"I watched the game against Worcester last Friday and was impressed with the bonus point win."
Ross said he felt it was time for a change after a tough season with Stade which has seen him captain them on several occasions.
"I have enjoyed my time at the club and living in Paris has been great but I needed a new challenge," added Ross, who has previous experience of the top level in England having played for Saracens a couple of times in 2012-13.
"It's not been the easiest of seasons at Stade Francais but I will be giving it my best in the remaining games to hopefully leave on a high."
Diamond, whose side have had a disappointing season and lie 10th in the Premiership with three games remaining, said he was delighted to have secured a player he termed a "leader".
"Jono is a great signing for us," said Diamond.
"He is a versatile player equally at home at flanker and number eight and is also a leader on the field.
"His ball carrying ability will be a huge asset in the Premiership. Once we knew about his availability we moved quickly to secure his signature."