Since the news broke that Ruan Pienaar had terminated his deal with Montpellier with one year remaining on his contract, Ulster fans have been excited at the thought of one of their favourite adopted sons returning to Belfast.
Many fans have already acknowledged that John Cooney has filled his boots superbly well and David Shanahan has made huge progressions since Pienaar left Irish soil but many fans are keen to see the former Springbok return to Belfast in some sort of role.
Well….. there happens to be a job opening at the Kingspan Stadium and we know one guy who certainly fits the job description.
“Elite Player Development Officer (EPDO) – Backs Specialist”
The job summary reads:
“Ulster Rugby are currently inviting applications for the post of Elite Player Development Officer (EPDO) Backs Specialist. Reporting to the Academy Manager, the post holder will assist Ulster Rugby with delivery of the National Talent Program in Ulster, with particular attention on back play, and ensuring vibrant development programs exist through which elite players are identified for Ulster & Ireland.
The successful candidate will have IRFU Level 2 (Stage 4) coaching qualification (or equivalent) attended, or working towards this as of the closing date and have experience delivering collective/reduced coaching sessions at Stages 3, 4 and 5 of the LTPD pathway coupled with 2 years playing at an elite level or a minimum of 1 years’ experience delivering collective/reduced coaching sessions at Stages 3, 4 and 5 of the LTPD pathway.
It is anticipated that interviews will take place on either the 1st or 2nd July 2019. To apply, please download a detailed job description and person specification and complete the online application. The closing date for completed application forms is no later than 9am on Friday 21st June 2019.“
Digging into the full job description (which you can view here) there are a few other little hints that Ulster Rugby could have a particular someone in mind.
The successful candidate must have some specific experience.
“Experience delivering collective/reduced coaching sessions at Stages 3, 4 and 5 of the LTPD pathway coupled with 2 years playing at an elite level;
or – A minimum of 1 years’ experience delivering collective/reduced coaching sessions at Stages 3, 4 and 5 of the LTPD pathway
We’re maybe adding 2+2 and getting 5 but it’s been no secret that Pienaar has always been keen to return to Belfast and with his family moving back shortly after their move to France it’s clear that if a role at Ulster Rugby came up he could certainly be tempted.
With interviews set to take place on July 1st and 2nd, we won’t need to wait too long to see who the successful candidate is.
Munster confirm Zebo signing
This co-funded contract will see Munster’s all-time record try-scorer return from Racing 92 and line out for his home club where he made 144 appearances and scored 60 tries between 2010 and 2018.
In his third season with the Top 14 side, the 31-year-old has played 55 times and scored 21 tries to date.
Head Coach Johann van Graan said, “The opportunity to bring Simon back to Munster came about in early April following a final review of our squad’s budgetary position for season-end and with assistance from the IRFU to support what we believe is a really good deal for Munster and Irish Rugby.
“Simon’s desire to return to Ireland and play with his home club is illustrated by his willingness to sign at a level below his market value elsewhere. This has made bringing the province’s all-time leading try-scorer back home, possible.”
Simon Zebo said, “I am thrilled and honoured to be coming back home to play for Munster. My family and I have been so lucky to have enjoyed three incredible years with Racing 92 in Paris and I cannot thank the team there enough, I really have made friends for life and take with me some brilliant memories.
“However, as everyone knows, Munster holds a very special place in my heart and I’ve always said that I wanted to play for them and potentially Ireland again, so when this opportunity arose the lure of being close to home, family and friends and Munster fans, it outweighed all other options. I cannot wait to get back to the HPC with the team and hopefully a packed Thomond Park.”
Ulster Rugby agree to release Coetzee early
Marcell Coetzee has played his last game for Ulster Rugby.
With back-row, Marcell Coetzee, currently side-lined with a hamstring injury, Ulster Rugby has agreed terms which will see the player released from the club at the end of this month, ahead of his planned departure at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.
Given the need for several weeks of rehabilitation following the injury sustained by Coetzee in last month’s Guinness PRO14 fixture against Leinster, Ulster Rugby and the player have reached a mutual agreement to part ways on Friday 30 April.
Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment, Bryn Cunningham, said: “We have come to an agreement that will allow Marcell the time and space required to continue his rehab.
Lowry retained at 10 for Ulster v Zebre
21-year-old, Cormac Izuchukwu will make his first start for the Ulster men as he is named in the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell. Marty Moore comes back into the starting front row at tighthead, with Eric O’Sullivan and John Andrew retaining their starting berths at loosehead and hooker. Jordi Murphy will captain the side at openside flanker, with Sean Reidy and David McCann being retained at blindside and Number Eight.
A youthful back line sees Ethan McIlroy coming into the back three at full-back, with Rob Lyttle on the left wing and Robert Baloucoune returning on the right. Stewart Moore and James Hume will make up the midfield pairing, while John Cooney and Michael Lowry are named at half-back.
Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor and Matty Rea are the forward reinforcements, with David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham providing the back line options on the bench.
Ulster team to play Zebre Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 16, Friday 19 March at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 8.15pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):
(15-9) Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Michael Lowry, John Cooney;
(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Cormac Izuchukwu, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordy Murphy (Capt.), David McCann.
Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.