Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Ulster coup as they sign New Zealand forward Afoa

By Niall Crozier

Published 16/03/2011

Ulster have swooped to sign All Blacks prop John Afoa.

The 27-year-old New Zealand tighthead has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract which will see him join Ulster in the autumn as soon the World Cup ends.

Afoa is a direct replacement for 31-year-old Springboks tighthead BJ Botha whose fitness has been a source of concern to Ulster. Currently Botha is sidelined with an elbow injury.

The man who is coming to take over not only is younger, but he is in his prime in terms of fitness and game maturity.

Once again the deal was done by Ulster’s Director of Operations, David Humphreys, who last season oversaw the signings of a trio of South Africans, Johann Muller, Ruan Pienaar and Pedrie Wannenburg, who was married last week in his homeland.

Humphreys said: “We targeted John, we spoke only to John and now we have completed the signing of John.

“Despite any suggestions to the contrary, he was the player we identified as being able to do all of what we felt we needed.

“His signing is a continuation of what was done last year when we brought in Johann, Pedrie and Ruan.

“They were recruited in order to strengthen our squad and help the development of the players around them.

“I think it can be seen that their influence has been very good for Ulster.

“Our objective is to be able to compete with the top teams in Europe and it was with that in mind that we decided we needed to strengthen our front row.”

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