Ulster secure deal for All Black Afoa
ULSTER have confirmed the signing of All Black tight-head John Afoa to replace Munster-bound BJ Botha, as reported in yesterday's Irish Independent.
Auckland Blues prop Afoa will join the province on a two-and-a-half-year deal which will commence after the World Cup this autumn. The 27-year-old has made 28 appearances for the All Blacks since making his debut against Ireland in 2005 and believes Ulster provide the perfect challenge at this stage of his career.
"I've been part of the Blues' family for my entire career and so, when the opportunity came up, I felt that period post-World Cup would be the perfect time," said Afoa.
"I've done my research and can't help but be impressed at how the Ulster squad is developing. There seems to be a good mix of local and overseas players and I'm looking forward to playing my part. I want to challenge myself and the northern hemisphere style of play will certainly offer me that.
"From what I hear, Ulster people seem to have a similar outlook as Kiwis and I've been told that I can expect a warm welcome in Belfast," he added.
"I have a young family who will be making the move with me and while the opportunity to experience a new culture and way of life will be a wonderful experience for all of us, it's nice to know that we won't feel too far away from home."
Ulster winger Andrew Trimble, who was yesterday recalled to the Ireland side to face England at Lansdowne Road on Saturday, welcomed the news. "John Afoa is a world-class player," said Trimble. "The guys rate him very highly and we're delighted to get him."