Having failed in an attempt to sign Chris Masoe from Castres last month, the club's management have continued their efforts to bring in a high-class ball carrier with the capacity to repeatedly get over the gain-line and the 29-year-old fits the bill.
Though considerably less well known, Ma'afu brings many of the same qualities as Masoe and, whereas the veteran All Black would have turned 33 by the time he arrived, should be at the peak of his powers. In this new era for professional rugby in Scotland, Glasgow have already made a series of impressive signings of Scottish-qualified players but the evidence from across the European scene is that judicious recruitment of quality southern hemisphere players can bring both leadership and direction.
To date, the Scottish clubs have been given limited opportunity to compete for such talent, largely having to target the budget end of the market with mixed success. While players such as Tommy Hayes and Bernie Stortoni, the flamboyant Cook Islander and fans' favourite, have offered great service, more than a decade has now elapsed since Todd Blackadder, the former All Black captain, arrived in Edinburgh, swiftly followed from New Zealand by Brendan Laney. That pair represent perhaps the best business done by either Scottish club.
They were key figures in what was, until this season, a unique campaign when they reached the Heineken Cup quarter-finals in 2003/04, and it is worth noting that when the club finally repeated that feat, the man of the match in their final two pool matches was Netani Talei, the Fijian back-row man.
While Glasgow have been more consistently competitive this season, resulting in a much superior placing in the RaboDirect Pro12, they cannot match the dynamism of Edinburgh. That has come largely in the shape of Talei and Dave Denton, the Zimbabwean-born youngster who has performed so well for Scotland this season.
In welcoming news of Ma'afu's imminent arrival Sean Lineen, the Glasgow head coach, believes he is bringing in a player who can address both of those areas. As a gifted individual who has also represented his country at tennis and golf, Ma'afu could also become a truly inspirational figure.
"We're all really excited about what Viliami will offer us from next season," said Lineen. "He's proved his ability on some of the biggest stages in world rugby, he's got real presence and leadership potential, he's at a great age for a loose forward and he's hungry for success. It's a great all-round package to have in a signing, and I'm convinced he'll make a really positive impact.
"We've got good strength in depth in the back row and Viliami will bring his own flavour and ability to that. He offers another angle of attack, as well as excellent defensive qualities."
For his part, Ma'afu expressed excitement at the prospect of coming to Scotland, subject to obtaining a visa which should be something of a formality for a player who took part in the World Cup for a country that currently sits above Scotland in the official world rankings. "I can't wait to become part of the team in the summer," he said.
"I know they've been doing well in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season and it's exciting to know I'll be able to play a part in big games in that competition and the Heineken Cup. It's clear that there is a lot of ambition and a talented squad in place. It's going to be a fantastic place to play my rugby."
That final message is an important one since it explains what attracted Ma'afu to Glasgow. That will, in turn, help persuade others to consider the Scottish clubs seriously, with his arrival reinforcing the impression that the Scottish teams are being given increasing backing from their Scottish Rugby Union owners to compete in the transfer market.
"Signing Viliami is a significant boost for everyone at Glasgow Warriors ahead of another massive match this weekend," said Nathan Bombrys, Glasgow's managing director. "We're constantly looking to improve our squad and Viliami's arrival is a big step in the right direction. We're very happy with the signings and re-signings we've made so far, and we'll be working hard to give the Warriors supporters even more good news in the coming weeks and months."
Not that everyone at the club will be celebrating, though. The news surely signals the end, for the time being at least, of Johnnie Beattie's eight-year spell at the club. The 26-year-old is now at a crossroads in his career and would seem to need a change of environment.
With Kelly Brown having gone from strength to strength since breaking up the "Killer Bs" back-row combination 18 months ago, a key question is whether the same can be said for the third of them, John Barclay. An automatic choice for Scotland until the World Cup, where he put in a string of disappointing performances, he has lost his place in the national side to Ross Rennie and, at least some of the time, at club level to Chris Fusaro.
He had looked likely to leave Glasgow earlier this season, but cautious optimism is growing within the club that he may be prepared to stay and fight for both No.7 jerseys or perhaps develop his versatility across the back-row.