Cape Town - Irish club Ulster received a huge boost with confirmation that utility back Louis Ludik has signed a contract extension.
Ulster announced the news via their official website on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old South African, who has had previous spells with Super Rugby teams the Lions and the Sharks, as well as a stint with Agen in France, will become Irish-qualified next summer.
Ludik's consistency and versatility have been major assets to Les Kiss' squad. He has played outside centre, wing and fullback for the province over the past 18 months. He started 24 games last season, while he has made 11 starts so far this term. He has scored five tries in his 39 Ulster appearances to date.
The news follows the announcements that Charles Piutau, Rodney Ah You and Kieran Treadwell will join Ulster this summer, in addition to the recent re-signing of Franco van der Merwe.
Ulster are also believed to be on the verge of signing Springbok loose forward Ryan Kankowski.
Commenting on his new contract, Ludik said:
"I feel very blessed to be staying here at Ulster. I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here so far as it's a really nice environment to be in. The people are awesome; they are welcoming and friendly and they have made us feel very much at home.
"There's a great atmosphere in the squad and the professionalism of the whole organisation is fantastic. I've no doubt that the future is bright here at Ulster and it's something I want to be involved in.
"The medical provision and facilities are great, too. Every time I come to Kingspan Stadium I just feel very fortunate to be here and I'm glad I've been given the opportunity to extend my stay."
Operations Director, Bryn Cunningham, said the deal represented a major boost for Ulster:
"Re-signing Louis Ludik is a fantastic outcome for Ulster Rugby as he provides so much to the province both on and off the field. As Louis becomes Irish-qualified in the summer of 2017, I want to thank the IRFU and David Nucifora (IRFU performance director) for understanding the very clear rationale for allowing us to retain his services.
"Louis has been one of the most consistent performers for Ulster over the past 18 months. His attitude and commitment have been exemplary, becoming an excellent role model for the young backs currently coming through our pathway.
"He has been excellent as the last line of defence and he repeatedly forces himself over the gainline in attack. When you add the versatility he brings, this will give us plenty of exciting options next season.”