Bulls back-row Botha joins Ulster

Date published: January 16 2017

Ulster announced the signing of Blue Bull Arno Botha, who will join the side after the 2017 Super Rugby campaign.

Botha will join the Province on a two-year deal and can operate either as a flanker or number eight.

He has made 46 Super Rugby appearances for the Bulls and is currently vice-captain for the franchise, where he has spent his entire professional career.

The 25-year-old captained South Africa U-20s in the 2011 World Championships in Italy and was also named as their Player of the Year.

He made his debut for the Springboks against Italy in June 2013, but suffered a knee injury just four minutes into his second test, against Scotland, later that month.

Commenting on Botha’s arrival, Director of Rugby Les Kiss said: “Arno was tipped to be a future Springboks captain from a young age but his career was somewhat curtailed by injuries after he made his international debut in 2013. Those injuries are behind him now and he has regained his best form over the past 12 months,” Kiss told the Ulster website.

“His leadership and abrasiveness will be key attributes for us over the next couple of seasons. He is very aggressive in attack and his ability to get over the gainline will be especially good for us. Arno is also strong in defence, he’s a nuisance at the breakdown and he’s a good lineout option, so he has a very well-rounded game.

“He is an ambitious young man and he is determined to make an impact with us. He is a serious competitor who is willing to work hard to earn his jersey. I believe he will settle well in our environment and become a huge fan favourite here at Kingspan Stadium.”

Blue Bulls High Performance Manager Xander Janse van Rensburg thanked Botha for his contribution to the side.

“Arno received a very good offer from Ulster. We have been in constant discussions with Arno about his future since 2016,” Van Rensburg told the Blue Bulls website.

“We want to thank him for his contribution, we are thankful and proud of what he has done. The situation is that we can’t financially make an offer close to what he’s currently earning. Luckily we have great players coming through that we will be investing in,” Janse van Rensburg said.

“He is still a big player for us in the coming months and we are expecting some meaningful contributions from him as we embark on a tough Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.”

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