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Page last updated at 11:40 GMT, Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Ulster sign New Zealand prop John Afoa

John Afoa
John Afoa is impressed by the progress at Ulster

Ulster have signed Auckland Blues and New Zealand prop John Afoa on a two-and-a-half year deal.

The 27-year-old, who has made 28 appearances for the All Blacks, will join Ulster after the World Cup in New Zealand ends in late October.

"I've done my research and can't help but be impressed at how the Ulster squad is developing," said Afoa.

"There's a good mix of local and overseas players and I'm looking forward to playing my part in that."

Since joining the Auckland Blues in 2004, Afoa has made 86 Super Rugby appearances and in 2005 he made his senior debut for New Zealand against Ireland.

Afoa has represented New Zealand at School, U19 and U21 levels.

In 2003 he was part of the New Zealand side which won the U21 Rugby World Championship staged in England and was one of four New Zealanders named in the IRB Team of the Tournament.

Afoa's most recent appearance came against Scotland during the 2010 Autumn International Series and he looks certain to be part of the World Cup squad.

"I want to challenge myself and the northern hemisphere style of play will certainly offer me that," he added.

"Most of the players moving north state that the chance to participate in the Heineken Cup is one of the key factors in their decision and the same is true for me.

"But since the possibility of a move came up I've also caught some of the Magners League and that looks like a competition that is going from strength to strength.

"From what I hear, the Ulster people seem to have a similar outlook as Kiwis and I've been told that I can expect a warm welcome when I arrive in Belfast.

"I have a young family who will be making the move with me and while the opportunity to experience a new culture and way of life will be a wonderful experience for all of us, it's nice to know that we won't feel too far away from home."

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see also
Ulster 23-10 Aironi
04 Mar 11 |  Ulster
Aironi 10-20 Munster
27 Feb 11 |  Munster
Ulster 32-13 Cardiff Blues
25 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Magners League
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union

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