Former Ulster star Louis Ludik tips Springboks' Steven Kitshoff to inject extra impetus into trophy bid

South Africa's Steven Kitshoff will join his new Ulster team-mates after the Rugby World Cup in France (Photo: Alex Livesey)
South Africa's Steven Kitshoff will join his new Ulster team-mates after the Rugby World Cup in France (Photo: Alex Livesey)

​The Springbok loose head prop was Ulster’s marquee signing for the new season and will arrive in Northern Ireland after the World Cup in France.

The 31-year-old front-rower has an impressive CV; in two stints with the Stormers Kitshoff played over 120 times and captained the Cape Town franchise to the inaugural United Rugby Championship league title.

He already has European Cup experience after plying his trade for two years in France with Bordeaux, which included a 26-22 victory over Ulster at Kingspan Stadium in January 2017.

Kitshoff was part of the South African side that won the 2019 World Cup playing 37 minutes in the final against England after replacing Tendai Mtawarira.

The prop also played in all three tests in 2021 as the Springboks beat the British and Irish Lions 2-1.

Ludik said: “He is outstanding, he is like a lot of the modern props – he is a really good runner, he’s a really good carrier, he is really good over the ball, he turns the ball over and wins a lot of penalties so he is like an extra back-rower.

“It is just not obviously his experience – he isn’t too old, but he brings a lot of experience – he is still young and will be energetic and will try to make a big difference once he comes here.

“He is world-class and Ulster are going to benefit massively.”

Kitshoff is the latest in a long line of high-profile South Africans like Robbie Kempson, Johann Muller, Ruan Pienaar and Duane Vermeulen to sign for Ulster.

Eplaining the attraction, Ludik said: “Ulster is very well known over the world and every South African that has been here has loved it, so when Ulster are interested in signing a South African, they would call each other and ask what their opinion is and what it is like.

“Every single person would be a very big advocate for Ulster and singing it’s praises.

“It is an awesome club and even though the weather can be challenging, the club is so professional, and Ulster would win 99% of their games at Kingspan and are very competitive in Europe as well.”

“Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to win trophies, but they are still very competitive. Going away the last 10 years we’ve won quite a lot of games in Europe – big victories – and I think that is the difference.

“Even though you don’t win trophies you are still very successful. Ulster normally get to play-offs and play into finals and for a lot of the Boks and players in South Africa, they want to play in a team like that,” he added.

“If Steven comes here and Ulster win a trophy it would be a huge testament to him and the difference had has made.

“Ulster is so close to winning something every year. It is a challenge for a lot of players that it is just that little extra bit of help that hopefully brings a trophy, and it is an extra bit of motivation and a big thing.”