Ulster head coach Dan McFarland says they have reaped the rewards of a patient approach, after completing the signing of Duane Vermeulen last week.

The 35-year-old Springbok has committed himself to Kingspan Stadium until 2023, and will join up with the squad following his Rugby Championship and Autumn International commitments with South Africa.

The news of Vermeulen's arrival came as a surprise to many, with Ulster's business for the season seemingly finished.

However, head coach Dan McFarland has been detailing the chain of events that led to his signing, and it started with the collapse of their previous deal to recruit former European Player of the Year Leone Nakarawa.

The province confirmed the signing of the Fijian second row earlier this year, only for the deal to be canceled in June following issues with his medical.

McFarland said the collapse of that deal left Ulster with space in their budget to recruit another high-profile signing.

"Marcell (Coetzee) went back to South Africa, we were always in the market for a difference-making player," he said.

"There was Leone (Nakarawa), and then unfortunately his medical from our perspective didn't work out.

"Rather than diving straight back into the market and signing the first player that came available, we'd be very specific about the type of player that we wanted, and that was somebody who we felt was really going to make a difference to us.

"It didn't have to be in any particular aspect. We wanted it to be a back rower, but we wanted it to be an influential back rower. When we first looked at the names of the list, they were really good players, don't get me wrong, but we've got really good players here, so we held our breath and kept our powder dry," he added.

McFarland said once Vermeulen's name was mentioned by his head of recruitment Bryn Cunningham (above, left), he wanted the World Cup winner to be his man.

"Then one day Bryn (Cunningham) stuck his head into my office and said, 'What about Duane Vermeulen?' And I said, 'Yes please!'

"Bryn really took it from there. Duane said it in his quote, a lot of good conversations with the agent and Bryn around about what we offer as a club and what part he could play in that and we are where we are.

"In terms of what Duane can offer, he's a World Cup-winning number eight, he was MVP in the World Cup final.

"As a particular player, he's a really big-bodied back rower. We don't have big-bodied back rowers, that's what Marcell was, and Duane brings that. He also brings a lot of game nous, he's a really smart player.

"You can see from the fact that the Springboks were so desperate to get him back in their team, the impact he has on the people around him.

"It doesn't need me to explain he's been a top quality player for a long time," McFarland said.

Ulster open their United Rugby Championship campaign on Friday night away to the Glasgow Warriors, but will be without several Irish internationals for "a couple of weeks" due to injury.

Sean Reidy could be fit to return however, having returned to training this week.