Ireland have appointed South Africa's World Cup-winning forwards coach Gert Smal to their backroom staff.
The 46-year-old former Springboks international, who has signed a three-year contract up until the end of the 2011 World Cup, will assume the same role under new Ireland head coach Declan Kidney.
Smal was part of the coaching team which masterminded South Africa’s victory last autumn, three years after he was appointed as an assistant to Jake White.
He previously enjoyed success as head coach of domestic sides Western Province and the Stormers and was widely tipped to become part of the new Ireland set-up.
Smal said: “I see it as a great honour to be part of the new Ireland management.
“I am really excited about the prospect of working with Declan Kidney, (team manager) Paul McNaughton and the other management.
“Ireland has a strong squad of players and I look forward to working with them in the build up to the next World Cup.”
Kidney added: “We are delighted to get a person of Gert Smal’s stature on our coaching team.
“He comes with a very impressive list of achievements at the highest levels in South African rugby, highlighted of course by his critical role as assistant coach when the Springboks won the World Cup in France last year.”
The Irish Rugby Union plan to appoint the remainder of the Ireland management team before the first squad session of the new season in August.