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Munster Set to Lose Fly-Half to Rivals

One of the Irish provinces look set to steal one of Munster’s talented out-halves

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(Photo By Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ulster appear to be in poll position to sign Munster fly-half Bill Johnston during the summer as he looks for more game-time.

The 22-year-old, former Ireland Under-20 international, who is highly regarded in the south has started just four games this season and it seems as though he will be heading north for further opportunities.

The Clonmel native hit the headlines during the 2016 World Rugby Under-20 Championship as he helped Ireland to a comeback victory against Wales before being part of a historic win over New Zealand.

Since then he has been unfortunate with injuries as he dislocated his shoulder against that New Zealand team and suffered an ankle injury during the 2016/17 season. Those injuries have meant that over the past three seasons he has only made a dozen or so competitive appearances.

As well as injuries preventing his development, the arrival of Joey Carbery last summer coupled with Tyler Bleyendaal’s consistency have meant that he has also fallen down the Munster pecking order.

At such a young age the out-half still has time to improve and it seems that he believes Ulster is the best destination for his development.

The northern province has become a popular destination for players who seek more game-time and want to develop. If he joins, he will follow similar footsteps to Marty Moore, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney and Nick Timoney who left their provinces for Ulster as well as Jack McGrath who is joining this summer.

All of which have become key players in Ulster’s climb to the Pro 14 semi-finals this season, where they face Glasgow on the 17th of May in a bid to make it to the final showpiece.

6 Nations

Huge boost for Ulster & Ireland as Henderson signs new deal

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ulster captain, Iain Henderson, who has represented the province on 116 occasions, has secured his future with the club for the next two years.

Craigavon-born Henderson, who took up the role of Ulster captain in 2019, has progressed through the Ulster development system. Starting with mini rugby at Academy RFC, his early playing career saw him reach the final of the Danske Bank Schools Cup in 2010 with Belfast Royal Academy, represent Queen’s University Belfast as well as Ireland at Age-Grade level, before quickly rising through the ranks of senior professional rugby in the province.

Iain, who captained Ireland for the first time against France in this year’s Guinness Six Nations, made his international debut against South Africa in November 2012 and has won 60 caps to date for his country. 

A Lions tourist in 2017, Iain succeeded Rory Best as Ulster captain in 2019.  

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented,

“Over the past few seasons Iain has really developed into a leader within both the Ireland and Ulster squads. He is part of the national leadership group, captaining Ireland recently for the first time and we are delighted to have ensured that he continues his career in Ireland.”

Iain Henderson, commented,

“It has been a great honour to captain both Ulster and Ireland in recent times. Irish rugby is in a good place despite the disruption the sport has experienced during the pandemic. As professionals, we have been in a privileged position to be able to continue playing and I know we all hope to see supporters back in the Aviva and Kingspan in the near future.”

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Pro14

Ulster issue positive update on Coetzee injury

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Many Ulster fans feared they may have seen the last appearance of Springbok Marcell Coetzee in an Ulster shirt after he was helped from the field on Friday night but a medical update has been issued which appears to be more positive than what was initially feared.

Update below:

The Ulster Rugby Medical Performance Team has issued a squad update ahead of Friday’s Guinness PRO14 Round 13 fixture against Ospreys at Kingspan Stadium.

Marcell Coetzee suffered a thigh muscle contusion in Ulster Rugby’s Guinness PRO14 Round 12 match against Glasgow Warriors. His availability for selection for the upcoming game against Ospreys will be assessed through the coming week.

There are no other new injury concerns arising from Friday night’s game at Scotstoun Stadium.

Squad updates in association with The Ulster Independent Clinic.

Update ends.

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Pro14

Murphy to Captain Ulster against a strong Glasgow team

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(Photo By John Dickson/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Jordi Murphy will captain Ulster for the first time in Friday’s return to Guinness PRO14 action, while the trip to Glasgow will also mark significant milestones for Kieran Treadwell and Marty Moore. 

Murphy will start at openside flanker, alongside fellow loose forwards Nick Timoney and Marcell Coetzee. Treadwell will become the latest Ulster centurion as he is named to start along with Alan O’Connor in the second row. In the front row, Eric O’Sullivan returns from international duty to join John Andrew and Marty Moore, who will make his 50th Ulster appearance. 

In the backs, John Cooney and Stuart McCloskey are also released from Ireland camp and will start in their familiar 9 and 12 jerseys. Ian Madigan will partner Cooney at fly-half, with James Hume joining McCloskey in midfield. Rob Lyttle makes his return from injury on the left wing, with Craig Gilroy on the right and Michael Lowry at full-back.  

Academy second row, Cormac Izuchukwu is set to make his senior debut if called upon from the bench. He is named alongside Adam McBurney, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole – also returning from international duties – and Greg Jones in the forward reinforcements. Alby Mathewson, Stewart Moore and Matt Faddes will provide back line cover.  

Ulster team to play Glasgow Warriors, Guinness PRO14 Round 12, Friday 19 February at Scotstoun Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport): 

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Craig Gilroy, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Rob Lyttle, Ian Madigan, John Cooney; 

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Nick Timoney, Jordi Murphy (Capt.), Marcell Coetzee.  

Replacements: Adam McBurney, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Cormac Izuchukwu, Greg Jones, Alby Mathewson, Stewart Moore, Matt Faddes.

Glasgow Warriors have named a strong lineup with lots of Scottish caps and releases and a welcome return for mercurial Out-Half, Adam Hastings.

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