New Ulster signing Rodney Ah You targeting titles at the Kingspan
Ulster have confirmed that Connacht prop Rodney Ah You will join the province ahead of the 2016-2017 campaign on a two-year deal.
The 27-year-old will battle it out with Wiehahn Herbst for the tighthead jersey at the Kingspan Stadium next season.
A product of the Canterbury system in New Zealand, Ah You is Irish qualified after moving to Galway in 2010 and has won three caps for his adopted country.
His Test debut came on the 2014 tour to Argentina while he appeared off the bench against South Africa and Georgia in that year's Autumn internationals.
Ah You said the potential for silverware was the motivating factor behind his move.
"I'm really excited about the challenges that lie ahead with Ulster. They are a side with big ambitions and are capable of winning silverware in the very near future," said the former New Zealand Under-20 international.
"I feel that the environment at Ulster will allow me to realise my ambitions in the game. With so many players pushing one another for starting places, it will hopefully spur me on to a new level.
"AT 27 I feel that my best years are ahead of me and I want to push hard for more international recognition too. With the support of my family, I'm looking forward to making Belfast our new home."
Connacht head coach Pat Lam admitted his disappointment that his side were unable to keep hold of a player they've developed for the last five seasons.
"We'd like to wish Rodney and his family all the best in Belfast and with Ulster," said Lam.
"While disappointed not to have him playing as part of the Connacht squad next year, we respect the player's individual decision. I know Rodders wants to do everything he can for the remainder of the season to help the team and his team-mates achieve our goals."
Having made over 100 appearances for Lam's side, Ah You praised the Westerners for the role they've played in his career.
"I want to thank Connacht massively for the support they have given to me and my family over the past five years. It's a fantastic club that is currently competing really strongly in the PRO12 and Europe," he said.
"I hope they continue to grow and wish them well for the future."
Ah You, who can also cover loosehead, is the second signing Ulster have made from the Sportsground in as many seasons after Armagh-born flanker Willie Faloon returned to his native province last summer.
Ulster's Director of Rugby Les Kiss welcomed the added front-row depth provided by the signing.
"We are delighted that Rodney has decided to commit to Ulster as he will add real strength in depth to our front-row department. As a 27-year-old prop there is still room for him to develop and as a coaching group we will endeavour to get the very best out of him," said Kiss.
"When you are competing on a number of fronts it is essential to have depth across all areas to sustain high performance levels throughout the season. It has been pleasing to see that depth develop in recent months, particularly with Kyle McCall at loosehead, and this will further enhance our front-row resources."