Ulster have signed South African prop Schalk van der Merwe from Super Rugby outfit Southern Kings on a two-year deal. 

The powerful 26-year-old front-rower will join the province this summer.

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Van der Merwe had a recent stint in France with Jake White's Montpellier and prior to that he played provincial rugby in his homeland.

He earned 25 Super Rugby caps for the Lions in 2014 and 2015, and Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss is delighted to add him to the ranks.

"Schalk is a talented player who I've been really impressed by - he was the cornerstone of the Lions scrum that dominated for a couple of Super Rugby seasons," he said.

"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.

"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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