Ulster sign Springboks star Marcell Coetzee

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Ulster have confirmed the signing of Springboks back-rower Marcell Coetzee on a three-year deal.

The versatile forward, who currently plays for the Sharks, will join the club in the summer following the completion of the 2016 Super Rugby season.

Coetzee, 24, has been capped by South Africa on 28 occasions since he made his international Test debut against England in 2012.

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss hailed the signing, saying: "It is a major coup for us to sign a player of Marcell's quality and experience. His age profile, positional versatility, leadership ability and character were some of the key ingredients as to why he was such an important target for us.

"He has played most of his international rugby between 6 and 7, but he has also played a huge amount at number eight, where we feel he could have a big impact for Ulster. That versatility is absolutely vital for us, as not only can Marcell be hugely effective across the three positions, but this can also accommodate the development of a number of our home-grown Irish-qualified players.

"Being appointed as the Sharks' vice-captain for the season shows that even at the young age of 24, Marcell has undoubted leadership ability. On the park, with his skilled and aggressive approach, he clearly leads from the front.

"Bryn [Cunningham, Ulster's operation director] has done a marvellous job in securing the services of such a talented player and I look forward to working with him. When you factor in the additions of Charles Piutau, Rodney Ah You and Kieran Treadwell, it will give us improved quality and depth across the squad in the coming seasons."

Coetzee has made 68 appearances for the Sharks in Super Rugby and also spent a season at Japanese Top League side Honda Heat.