Cardiff Blues are delighted to announce the signing of Ulster second-row Franco van der Merwe ahead of the 2017-18 season.
The former South Africa international joined the Irish province in 2014 and has gone on to make 68 appearances.
He will bring an abundance of experience and leadership to BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park as head coach Danny Wilson looks to bolster his pack.
Wilson said: “Franco is a quality player, who will bring physicality and experience to the pack. He’s been a standout leader and performer for Ulster over the last two seasons.
“The average age of our pack is currently just 25 and part of Franco’s role will be to help develop our younger forwards whilst bringing physicality and a lineout presence on game day.
“One of our priorities in recruitment for next season was to bolster our second-rows and increase our on field leadership. We believe Franco is a great fit and we look forward to his arrival in the summer.”
The 6ft 6ins, 18 stone second-row began his career with the Leopards in the Currie Cup before moving onto the Golden Lions.
In 2007 he moved up to their Super Rugby franchise where he made 85 appearances and won his Springbok cap.
Following his first season with Ulster he was named in the Guinness PRO12 team of the year and has been a prominent leader at the province.
Van der Merwe added: “I’m really looking forward to joining Cardiff Blues. When I was approached earlier this season I spoke to Nick Williams and George Earle, who I played with for the Lions, and they had so many good things to say about the club.
“They were really positive about what’s happening and going to happen and made it an easy decision for me.
“After three years with Ulster this is a new challenge and I’m looking forward to contributing to Cardiff Blues.
“Whenever I have played them it’s been a tough game, especially at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park where I have been on the wrong end of the result a couple of times. We’ve also stayed at the Vale and the facilities there are great.”