Franco van der Merwe signs new one-year deal at Ulster
Franco van der Merwe has signed a one-year contract extension at Ulster to stay with the province until June 2017.
The 32-year-old South African is in his second year at Kingspan Stadium and says committing to another year was "an easy decision for me and my family".
Van der Merwe has started in 15 of Ulster's 17 games this season.
A former Super Rugby player for the Lions and Sharks, he has scored three tries in 42 appearances for Ulster, occasionally captaining the side.
"This season has been a bit of a transition with Les [Kiss] coming in, but I'm excited to be part of the squad's growth over the next 18 months," said van der Merwe.
"The challenge for us is to keep improving and pushing to achieve silverware, and I'm confident that we'll continue to develop our game under Les and the other coaches."
Regarded as an excellent lineout operator, van der Merwe led the way for successful lineout takes in last season's Pro12 campaign.
Ulster's Director of Rugby Les Kiss described the second row's decision to commit his future to Ulster as "a fantastic boost for Ulster".
"His professional approach and the standards that he sets have been integral to the development of the young players coming through, such as Kyle McCall, Alan O'Connor, John Donnan and Stephen Mulholland."
Ulster's pack has already been bolstered for next season with the signings of Kieran Treadwell and Rodney Ah You.