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Ulster Add New Zealand Star to Their Ranks

Ulster have confirmed another massive signing ahead of the 2019/20 season.

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Ulster have announced the signing of utility back Matt Faddes from New Zealand side the Highlanders for next season.

The Super Rugby back, who can play in the centre, on the wing or at full-back, will join the club for the start of the 2019/20 Pro 14 season.

Faddes, who represented the Barbarians against Fiji at the Kingspan Stadium in 2016 has admitted that his visit three years ago had a part to play in his decision.

“Both Georgie (his wife) and I are looking forward to the experience of living and working in a new environment and the challenge that will provide. It’s exciting to consider the next chapter of my rugby career. When I visited in 2016, I was struck by the family, community feel to the club,” he said.

Although he has never been capped by the All Blacks he has represented the New Zealand Sevens team as well as the Barbarians.

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Ulster head coach Dan McFarland is excited by his sides latest signing and can’t wait to see what he brings to the ever-improving side.

“Matt is a quality player who will bring a lot of experience, skill and creativity to our backline. He’s quick and has shown throughout his career the ability to beat defenders with his footwork and acceleration. His versatility will also be very important for us, meaning he is able to play various positions alongside our talented young backs. Matt is excited about moving over to Ireland and with his undoubted ability and strong worth ethic, I’m sure he’ll add a significant amount to our squad,” he said.

Faddes’ arrival is the fourth ‘big name’ signing of the summer already for the northern outfit who have already confirmed that Leinster prop Jack McGrath, Brumbies lock Sam Carter and Worcester prop Gareth Milasinovich will all be wearing white and red next season.

McFarland is delighted that the club is attracting such high-quality players and believes that with the mixture of them along with the younger players in the squad the future looks bright for Ulster.

“Jonny [Petrie], Bryn [Cunningham] and I feel that this year’s recruitment process has been very productive and it’s encouraging that we are able to continue to attract players of this calibre to Ulster. The new arrivals will bolster our squad depth for next season and increase competition for places in key areas. This, coupled with the experience gained by so many of our young players this season, bodes well for us moving forward,” he added.

The New Zealander has been playing for his native Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup since 2010 and representing the Highlanders also, scoring an impressive 19 tries in 43 appearances for the Dunedin-based side. Ulster are having an incredible summer so far in the transfer department and having reached the Pro 14 semi-finals already this season it will be interesting to see if they can push on even further next year.

Get down and support the boys at the Kingspan Stadium. Click below for Ticket Details.

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Pro14

Scotland Ace Signs Contract Extension

One of Scotland’s key men has decided to put pen to paper on a new deal with his current club

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Scotland lock Ben Toolis has signed a new contract with current club Edinburgh ahead of the Six Nations with the national side.

The 27-year-old is included in Scotland’s Six Nations squad and has 22-caps to his name at the moment. Meanwhile at club-level Toolis has made over 100 appearances for Edinburgh since his debut in 2013. 

Speaking on the new deal Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill admitted he is delighted to have the Brisbane-born lock on board for the foreseeable future. 

“Ben is one of the most athletic locks in the league, while his ability and leadership at the lineout is key to the way we play. We are delighted to see him re-sign, and I’ve got no doubt that he will continue to be a big player for this club in the years to come,” he said to the club’s website. 

The length of the deal have not been announced, but it is a boost for both club and country as his stock continues to rise. 

Toolis will be hoping that he can continue his partnership with Grant Gilchrist in the upcoming Six Nations with the squad currently preparing to face Ireland in their opening game on February 1st.

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Pro14

Former Welsh Ace to Hang Up Boots

One of Wales’ former stars has confirmed that he will retire from rugby come the end of the current season

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Former Wales back James Hook has announced that he will be calling time on his professional rugby career come the end of the current season.

Hook is contracted to the Ospreys, but with his deal set to end at the end of the campaign he has decided the time has come to pull the curtain on a professional career spanning 16 years. 

“It’s sad but something I’m really looking forward to. It comes to everyone at some point and now it’s time for me. I’ve had lots of highlights, winning Grand Slam titles and Six Nations and going on the Lions tour in 2009. Then signing my first professional contract was a big moment for me. Growing up I always aspired to be a professional rugby player. You never think it’ll actually happen so when it did it really was amazing,” he said in a post on social media. 

The 34-year old picked up a total of 81-caps for Wales to go along with his 148 appearances for the Ospreys. 

As well as his time with the Welsh region Hook had spells at both Top 14 side Perpignan and English Premiership outfit Gloucester between his stints at the Ospreys. 

Hook has admitted he hopes to continue his rugby journey off the pitch, but that he is also looking forward to having more time to spend with his family after such a long time on the playing field. 

“I want to stay involved in the game, particularly working on the skills, like I do now with the young kickers and the age-grade sides, and I’m hoping to finish my level three coaching qualification. It’ll be nice to spend time with my family, my three young boys and my wife. It’s going to be sad not playing at the end of the season, but you’ve got to be positive and look on the bright side and I’m looking forward to what’s next,” he added. 

As well as his rugby career Hook has also written a series of children’s books that are set to be released later this year and that could provide him with something else to venture into if they are successful. 

However, for now he will be hoping that he can help the Ospreys turn around their disastrous season to date before he hangs his boots up for good. 

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Champions Cup

Connacht Set to Lose Big Star

Connacht look set to without one of their key men next season according to reports as he appears set for a move

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Connacht look as though they will have to deal without flanker Colby Fainga’a next season as he appears to be set for a move to French side Lyon according to Irish outlet the42.

They are reporting that the former Rebels man is the Top 14 side’s preferred replacement for the departing Liam Gill, who will leave at the end of this season. 

Connacht were keen to keep their players’ player of the year from last season and had entered contract talks to extend his deal past the original two years, but with talks stalling Lyon have come in with a reported offer of 300,000 euro a season which would be hard to refuse. 

The 28-year-old would be a huge loss to the western province having been such a massive influence since his arrival in 2018. 

However, more positive news for fans is that the back-rower is set to return from a knee injury this weekend against Toulouse, to help Connacht during a period where injuries have severely hampered them. 

It is understood that Connacht would like to replace Fainga’a with another overseas star, but for now they will hope to get the most out of the Aussie between now and the end of the season.

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