After much speculation, South Africa prop Steven Kitshoff, who stormed to success in the 2019 Rugby World Cup as part of the infamous ‘Bomb Squad’, will join Ulster on a three-year deal after next year’s World Cup.
Joining the province from the DHL Stormers, the 30-year-old, who has made 73 appearances for his country, will make Ulster his home until at least the summer of 2026.
The 6ft front rower has played most of his professional career in South Africa to date, with early success coming as part of the Western Province team that won the 2012 Currie Cup.
Presently, he has made the number 1 jersey at the Stormers his own as captain of the club, which comes after an overseas spell in France with Bordeaux-Bégles between 2015 and 2017.
The foundations for his rugby pedigree were laid at a young age when he attended Paul Ross Gymnasium, one of South Africa’s most renowned rugby schools, before representing his country at Under-20 level, which included winning the World Rugby U-20 Championship in 2012.
With Rory Sutherland already showcasing his value in bolstering Ulster’s front row in their derby win over Munster, Kitshoff is also set to play his part in developing Ulster’s young front rowers in the years to come through the world-class experience he will bring to the squad.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Ulster head coach Dan McFarland said: “We are excited that a player of Steven’s quality has chosen to be part of the journey we are on as a team.
“As one of the best players in his position in the game right now, he will bring a world class edge to our front row which will benefit our squad now, and in the development of our younger players as they come through the Ulster system.
“His set piece excellence and the physical edge to his play will, together with his winning mindset, be a real asset to us when he joins us next season, and we look forward to welcoming him to the province.”
Ahead of joining Ulster, Kitshoff admitted: “It’s clear that Ulster is on an exciting journey, and it’s one that I want to be a part of. With some big wins recently, it’s my ambition to be part of the squad that takes that next step and secures silverware for the province.
“I’m really looking forward to making the move to Belfast next year. It’s going to be a change.
“But I know, from everything I’ve heard, that when I line out for the first time in front of a home crowd at Kingspan Stadium in an Ulster jersey, it’s going to be a really special moment.”