Springbok flanker Jean Deysel welcomes expansion of Pro14

Jean Deysel made his debut for the Springboks against Italy in 2009 and won three further caps in 2011
Jean Deysel made his debut for the Springboks against Italy in 2009 and won three further caps in 2011

Four-times capped South African back-row forward Jean Deysel has welcomed the expansion of the Pro14 to include two sides from his native country.

The 32-year-old has signed a two-year deal with Ulster, having been on a three-month loan with Munster from the Sharks at the end of last season.

The Cheetahs and Southern Kings are part of a revamped 2017-18 competition.

"The Kings and Cheetahs will be out to prove a point and I can't think of a better competition to throw them into."

"It will be really good for South Africa as a whole and for the Pro14 so I think it's a 'win, win' for both sides really," said the Springbok flanker.

Deysel, who came off the bench for Munster in the Pro12 final defeat by the Scarlets in May, says he "fell in love" with the tournament during his stint with the Irish province and it was a "no brainer" to join Ulster when the opportunity presented itself.

"I played with Johann Muller at the Sharks and both Johann and BJ Botha, every time they came back they had wonderful stories about the place and the people.

"The facilities and stadium at Ulster are some of the best I've ever seen and I just want to go out now and earn the respect of the players and the fans."

Deysel has a reputation as one of the strongest ball carriers in South African rugby and has not given up hope of adding to his tally of international caps, the last of which he won in 2011.

"I'll never close the door on representing my country. With the Cheetahs and Kings on board, their games will be broadcast back home so hopefully it will be easier than before to remain in the shop window regarding international selection while playing overseas."

Deysel's compatriot, prop Schalk van der Merwe, has also joined Ulster on a two-year contract, although his debut is set to be delayed by his continuing recovery from a shoulder injury.

Ulster will host English Premiership side Wasps in a friendly at Kingspan Stadium on Thursday 17 August, before beginning their Pro14 campaign against the Cheetahs in Belfast on Friday 1 September.

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