The smart money has Kitshoff making his Ulster debut next week at home to Edinburgh prior to the first shots being fired in Europe
Though their performances have yet to hit significant heights in terms of dominant displays, just now there is a discernible feel-good factor around Ulster.
Four wins from five games is a healthy enough early return which has Dan McFarland’s side occupying third in the URC table – their only loss being a narrow one at Connacht in round three – but the overall mood in Belfast has been raised a few notches more by last weekend’s arrival of marquee signing Steven Kitshoff.
Though the double World Cup winner is thought unlikely to be thrown straight into action for Saturday’s visit to Glasgow – the smart money has Kitshoff making his Ulster debut next week at home to Edinburgh prior to the first shots being fired in Europe – his very presence at the Kingspan has created its own buzz.
“He’s just integrated into the group and got to know a lot of the boys,” Ulster assistant coach Jonny Bell said of the 31-year-old prop’s first day with the northern province since touching down in Belfast last Saturday.
“He’s been in all the meetings,” Bell added.
“It’s great to have him on board. He’s looking forward to getting to know the boys and getting out on the pitch.
“He’s a good person to have in the group.
“He’s just a really humble, grounded type of guy and I’m only getting to know him but he’s a double World Cup winner and you don’t become a double World Cup winner without having a certain amount of gravitas and character.
“You can see that in the way he speaks and the way he carries himself.”
With Duane Vermeulen – now another double World Cup winner – having exited Ulster last May, Ulster will be banking on their latest Springbok signing fitting in seamlessly to the province’s planning moving forward.
Kitshoff’s on and off-field contributions will be key to how this relationship works and whether Ulster can get bang from their buck by pushing into fresh territory in the hoped-for key knockout games.
“When you get these world-class players, particularly of the character of some of the guys we’ve had at the club like Duane (Vermeulen), Ruan Pienaar and now Steven, these guys, their desire to share and be part of things and try to contribute is great.
“We’re delighted to have him, and I think he’s excited to be here and (he) wants to contribute,” stated Bell.