Smal joins coach Declan Kidney's management team having had a distinguished playing and coaching career in Italy and South Africa.
Married to Patti and with two children, Dean (14) and Tamarin (12), Ireland's new forwards coach was a noted flanker.
He represented Western Transvaal (1980-1983), Stellenbosch University (1984-1985), captained SA Gazelles (1984), SA Defence Force (1986-1987), Western Province (1984-1993) and the Junior Springboks (1986).
He turned out for the Springboks against the touring New Zealand Cavaliers in 1986, against a World Invitation XV in 1989 and a Serge Blanco World XV team against France.
He was denied further Springbok involvement due to South Africa's isolation from international rugby between 1982 and 1992.
Between 1986 and 1990 he was a member of the Rovigo club in Italy, as player-assistant coach, following which he was appointed to a number of key coaching positions in South Africa.
He held head coach positions at the Border Bulldogs (1998-1999), Western Province (2000-2002) when they twice won the Currie Cup and then with the Stormers in the Super 12 between 2003 and 2005, reaching the semi-finals in 2004.
In 2004, Smal was appointed to the South African team management as assistant coach to Jake White, during which the Springboks won the Tri-Nations championship in 2004 before being crowned Rugby World Cup champions in France last year.
Ireland coach Declan Kidney said of Smal's appointment: "We are delighted to get a person of Gert Smal's stature on our coaching team.
"He comes with a very impressive list of achievements at the highest levels in South African rugby, highlighted of course by his critical role as assistant coach when the Springboks won the World Cup in France last year."
Smal himself remarked: "I see it as a great honour to be part of the new Ireland management. I am really excited about the prospect of working with Declan Kidney, Paul McNaughton and the other management.
"Ireland has a strong squad of players and I look forward to working with them in the build-up to the next World Cup."
The remainder of the Ireland management team will be confirmed over the next number of weeks and will be presented to the Ireland players during the squad session which will take place in August.