Toulon skipper Joe van Niekerk has agreed a two-year contract extension with the French Top 14 side ahead of their Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final with Harlequins.
The 52-times capped Springbok back row man left his native South Africa in 2008 to head to France and has become a cult figure in Toulon's bid to break into the upper echelons of French rugby.
He was in the Toulon side that reached the 2010 Amlin Challenge Cup final in Marseille, where they were beaten 28-21 by Cardiff Blues and scored a try in their 29-25 Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat against Perpignan in Barcelona a year later.
The 31-year-old told Var Matin: "Since my arrival, I've loved this club. I wanted to continue the adventure." Toulon have already recruited British & Irish Lions props Gethin Jenkins and Andrew Sheridan for next season to bolster a pack that already contains 2007 World Cup winner Bakkies Botha, England and Lions lock Simon Shaw, New Zealand prop Carl Hayman and England flanker Steffon Armitage.
Toulon host reigning Amlin Challenge Cup holders Harlequins at Stade Felix Mayol on Friday, 6 April (kick-off 20.45 local time) in the quarter-finals. They lost only once in the Pool stages, 6-3 at Newcastle Falcons, and currently lie in third place in the Top 14.
Van Niekerk played only once in the Pool stages, in the Round 6 away win over Petrarca Rugby, but was at the heart of a 32-20 home win in the Top 14 over Racing Metro 92 last weekend.
His quarter-final back row battle with Harlequins and England skipper Chris Robshaw will be one of the highlights of the game, along with Nick Evans v Jonny Wilkinson at outside half, Matt Giteau v Jordan Turner-Hall at centre and Ugo Monye v Alexis Palisson on the wing.
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.