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The Low-down on Ulster’s New Signings

Quick look at the confirmed and (almost confirmed) signings for next season.

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Sam Carter and Gareth Milasinovich both have been confirmed as new arrivals at the Kingspan Stadium next season while it is believed Matt Faddes will be announced soon. Here’s a look at who they are.

Sam Carter

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Position: Second Row

Age:29

Club: Brumbies

Nationality: Australian

The low-down: An important signing as Ulster could definitely do with another leader in the pack – someone who brings experience and, equally as important, a bit of edge to the young squad.

Carter is a totemic figure for the Brumbies and a born leader, being named co-captain along with Christian Leali’ifano. Following in the footsteps of his famous father, David Carter, he has won 16 caps for the Wallabies.

He is what you might call an ‘old-school’ second-row. He carries aggressively over the ‘hard-yards’ and has had one of the top tackle-counts for each of the past number of seasons. He has a relentless work ethic and is extremely useful at the set-piece.

Carter’s playing style bears more resemblance to Johann Muller than Iain Henderson. He puts in the important, unglamorous work in the engine room, tirelessly hammering away at the breakdown coalface. He is Mr Consistency and hasn’t had many major injury problems over the past few years. All signs point to this being a brilliant signing for Ulster.

Matt Faddes

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Position: Utility Back

Age: 27

Club: Highlanders

Nationality: New Zealand

The low-down: Given the nature of modern rugby, it pays to have versatile players. Addison has been a revelation for Ulster since his arrival as a utility back. Let’s hope Faddes can replicate his success in an Ulster jersey (particularly as Ulster will be without Stockdale and Addison for the start of the season).

Like Addison, Faddes is a quick and agile back who has an eye for a gap in the opposition defence. He has played international Sevens rugby for New Zealand and has become a cult hero at Otago for his skilful and creative playing style. However, like so many cult heroes, Faddes’ career has been plagued by inconsistency – capable of great bits of skill but most definitely a ‘confidence player’, prone to go through the occasional patch of poor form.

Reassuringly, there are highlights packages of him on YouTube showing that he is capable of being a potent attacking threat. Granted, anyone can look good in a montage of their ‘best bits’ but, if nothing else, he looks like a player who will be fun to watch and bring a few moments of excitement to the Kingspan. This will be a case of ‘In Bryn We Trust’ and Ulster fans should be hopeful considering Cunningham’s ability to identify and recruit good quality backs ‘Moneyball’ style.

Gareth Milasinovich

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Position: Prop (both sides)

Age: 26

Club: Worcester

Nationality: South African (Irish Qualified)

The low-down: Props who claim to be able to play on both sides of the scrum should be treated with suspicion. Remember Tom Court? Sometimes it’s better to stick to what you’re good at.

Ulster have needed to bolster their front row options for some time now and their track record of recruitment in this area hasn’t exactly been great. At 6’3” and 21 stone, Milanisovic certainly looks the part (although so did Rodney Ah You and Van der Merwe).

Due to injury and competition, he hasn’t played a huge amount of rugby which has limited his development. By all accounts, he is both ‘big’ and ‘strong’ – words often used to describe props who have yet to develop technique. However, under the expert tutelage of McFarland – who specialises in getting the best from the ‘tight five’ – it’s possible that Milanisovic, who has all the requisite physical attributes, could be moulded into a force to be reckoned with.

In the few times I’ve seen him, he has been solid if unspectacular – not a bad thing for a prop who’s only 26 (props, as we all know, are born in their late 20s). He will add some depth and much needed competition to the front row department.

In other news, Ulster fans should join together and pray that the rumours about Jack McGrath’s move up North are true. If they are, it looks like Ulster will finally have the formidable front row club they have been lacking and it is hoped Milanisovic will play a key role in this.

Pro14

Ulster Star Commits Future to Province

Ulster have announced that one of their key men has signed a contract extension with the northern province

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Ulster have announced that Ireland prop Jack McGrath has committed his future to the club after signing a contract extension.

The 30-year-old has put pen to paper on a two-year deal that will see him remain with the province until 2022. 

Having joined Ulster from Leinster before this season McGrath is delighted to have his future sorted. 

“On arriving at Ulster, I was welcomed with open arms and I have very much settled here since joining at the start of this season. It’s a fantastic set-up in terms of the players, coaches and support staff that I get to work alongside every day – and I look forward to what the future holds for the province over the course of the next two years,” he said. 

The 56-cap Ireland international and a British and Irish Lion McGrath has a huge amount of experience behind him and head coach Dan McFarland thinks he has a big role to play in the future of the province. 

“Jack’s reliably strong performances and vast international experience make him a great asset to Ulster – so I’m delighted that he is chosen to continue his career here with us. By renewing the contracts of players such as Jack, we are continuing to strengthen our squad now, and also into the future, given the important leadership he provides for our young talent starting out in their careers. I’m confident that Jack will play an important role in Ulster’s successes in the years ahead,” he said. 

It is a huge boost for Ulster to have his services to rely upon over the coming seasons as they look to continue to build on their brilliant season to date.

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Pro14

Scarlets Sign Future Wales Ace

Scarlets have confirmed the arrival of one of Wales future stars ahead of next season

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PRO14 outfit the Scarlets have announced the signing of Wales U20 fly-half Sam Costelow from Leicester Tigers ahead of next season.

The 19-year-old is predicted to have a bright future ahead and starred for his U20’s side last weekend when he earned the man of the match against England’s youngsters and is delighted to have the opportunity to play in Wales next season. 

“I’m really excited to be playing in Wales with the Scarlets next season. Scarlets are a really good side who have been playing some great rugby which I think will suit me. I feel it is the right move for me in how I am going to develop into the player that I want to be and also to fulfil the targets and hopes I want to fulfil in my career. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities that Leicester have provided me. I’ve learnt a huge amount there, especially from a player of the quality of George Ford. Hopefully, I can now keep developing at the Scarlets,” he said. 

Having played for the Ospreys U16’s he made the move to England to play for the Tigers and earned a couple of appearances in Europe for the East Midlands side this season. 

He has since been on loan at Championship side Ampthill for the rest of the season, where he has impressed once more and will be a huge boost for the Scarlets and their future.

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Pro14

Information for Final Round of PRO14 Confirmed

The fixtures, times and dates of the final round of this year’s PRO14 regular season have been announced

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The Guinness PRO14 final round fixtures have been announced with all the information you need to know about them.

Round 21 of the regular season is set to kick-off on Friday May 29th with the Kings hosting rivals the Cheetahs

The last round is full of derby games and continues on May 30th with Welsh rivals Ospreys taking on the Scarlets at 13 00. 

At 15 00 two games will commence with current favourites Leinster heading to Belfast to play Ulster in what is a mouthwatering tie and the Dragons will welcome the Cardiff Blues

The last of the games will start at 17 15 as Munster take on Connacht, Benetton host Zebre and Edinburgh play Scottish rivals Glasgow Warriors in what is set to be a final day to remember. 

As of now the final day could see teams still with plenty to play for to decide play-off places and Conference standings. 

However, it remains to be seen whether the current coronavirus outbreak will have any effect on the final round with Italy already suspending all events as the country goes into lockdown in an attempt to prevent the spreading of the virus. 

Check Out the Full List of Round 21 Fixtures Below. 

Friday, May 29 –

Isuzu Southern Kings v Toyota Cheetahs, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, 7.10pm local time (live SuperSport)

Saturday, May 30 –

Ospreys v Scarlets, Liberty Stadium, 1pm (live Premier Sports)

Ulster v Leinster, Kingspan Stadium, 3pm (live Premier Sports)

Dragons v Cardiff Blues, Rodney Parade, 3pm (live Premier Sports)

Benetton Rugby v Zebre, Stadio di Monigo, 6.15pm local time (live DAZN)

Munster v Connacht, Thomond Park, 5.15pm (live eir Sport)

Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors, BT Murrayfield, 5.15pm (live Premier Sports)

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