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Pienaar told me to come to Ulster, says new signing Deysel


By Michael Sadlier

As Jean Deysel reels off the names of half-a-dozen fellow Sharks players who have previously joined Ulster, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Super Rugby franchise might just be a feeder club for the Kingspan Stadium squad.

Ulster's latest signing from the Durban-based outfit has certainly put in his time for the Sharks - having made his Currie Cup debut a decade ago - but the 32-year-old powerhouse back-rower has now happily chosen to follow the well-worn path already trodden by BJ Botha, Ruan Pienaar, Johann Muller, Louis Ludik, Marcell Coetzee and Wiehahn Herbst to touch down in Belfast.

Though the latter trio of ex-Sharks players are still members of Les Kiss's squad - meaning their presence will greatly help Deysel, his wife Cindi and three-year-old son Zanru settle in - coming here is not quite the culture shock that most of the previous arrivals faced as Deysel spent the back end of last season on a short-term loan assisting an injury-hit Munster.

Then, as he was preparing to return to Durban, following Munster's defeat in last May's PRO12 final, Ulster's deal with fellow South African Arno Botha fell through which opened up the possibility of a permanent move to an Irish province Deysel had already hoped he might be able to join thanks to what he had heard from those who had gone before.

"It was an easy 'yes' when it came to coming here," said the former Springbok at his good fortune of being in the right place at the right time.

"For me, though, it (coming to Ulster) was probably always on the cards really.

"Every time I spoke with Johann, or Ruan, or BJ, when they were back home, they always had such good things to say about the club.

"And, yes, it made it a little bit easier with Marcell, Wiehahn and Louis already here," he added at Ulster's new shirt launch.

Pienaar, though, is singled out for special mention in giving advice even as he was taking his leave for France.

"I spoke a lot to Ruan," stated Deysel, who has also played in Japan. "He had nothing but good things to say and told me that I wouldn't regret the decision."

It looks like a shrewd piece of business for Ulster as the physically imposing Deysel is renowned for his mighty ball-carrying.

And if Kiss can deploy him in a back-row alongside a hopefully fit-again Coetzee then Ulster can harbour some well-placed optimism for the season in terms of their physicality up front.

Deysel, who can play right across the back-row, is relishing the prospect of packing down with Coetzee again while his hunger for silverware - he last played in a winning final for the Sharks' 2008 Currie Cup triumph - is not alien to Ulster's gnawing issues on that front.

"It's good to be working with Marcell again," said Deysel who has played four Tests for South Africa.

"He takes a lot of load off me and I took a lot of load off him back home so hopefully we can continue that with a different jersey," he added of the man six years his junior. And the silverware issue?

"For me, playing in the PRO12 final was great with Munster, but I was only introduced late in the season," he said.

"I think with Ulster, because I'm here from the start, I can actually really build something from the ground up.

"So if we can add silverware that would just be the cherry on the cake."

He hopes to be togging out in Ulster's pre-season friendlies, starting with Wasps tomorrow at the Kingspan (kick-off 7.30pm), but is really hoping to lock horns with familiar names when the Cheetahs make their PRO14 bow in Belfast on September 1 for the league's opening weekend.

"I just want to get on the park," he said with a smile.

Beware all: Ulster's latest Shark is hungry for work.

Belfast Telegraph

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