Kings prop heads to Ulster

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 12:20
Large les kiss on schalk van der merwe 800

NEWS: Ulster have lured powerful front row forward Schalk van der Merwe to Belfast.

He will join the Irish province later this year on a two-year deal.

The 26-year-old will make the move following the conclusion of the 2017 Super Rugby season, in which he is representing the Southern Kings franchise.

The loosehead prop had a recent stint in France with Jake White's Montpellier and prior to that he played in his homeland, South Africa.

He earned 25 Super Rugby caps for the Lions in 2014 and 2015, as they produced a number of dominant scrum displays against much-vaunted opposition.

"Schalk is a talented player who I've been really impressed by," Director of Rugby Les Kiss said.

"He was the cornerstone of the Lions scrum that dominated for a couple of Super Rugby seasons.

"In addition to his excellent scrummaging, he will give us some much-needed physicality in the loose, and this will be a major plus for us in the seasons ahead.

"He has a hard edge and he's determined to work hard to nail down a starting place here at Ulster.

"His arrival will give us much-improved depth at loosehead, with Kyle McCall, Andy Warwick and Callum Black also on the books.

"As we've seen this season, injuries, particularly in the front row, mean that at times we're required to delve deep into our pool of resources.

"With the impending arrivals of Arno Botha and Schalk, the return to fitness of Marcell Coetzee, and the ongoing development of Academy players like Ross Kane, Aaron Hall, Tommy O'Hagan and Marcus Rea, we will have a much stronger roster of forwards to select from next season."

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