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Ulster announce 4 more contract extensions



(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

John Andrew, Kieran Treadwell, Andrew Warwick and Nathan Doak all commit to Ulster until at least June 2023.

Ballymena-born, John Andrew, who scored a hat-trick of tries against Edinburgh in November to help cement the bonus-point win over the Scottish side, has put pen-to-paper on a new two year deal.

The hooker, who came through the ranks of the Ulster development system is known for the athleticism and intelligence he brings to the game. Of today’s news, Andrew, said:

“I’m very happy to have signed-on for the next couple of years having really enjoyed this season so far, despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic. I’m excited to have the chance to be playing in front of our fans again at Kingspan Stadium whenever that may be in the future.”

Of the announcement, Ulster Rugby Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said: “John has demonstrated how valuable he is to the Ulster set-up – he has had some outstanding performances this season against the likes of Glasgow, Dragons and Edinburgh. He is a very proud Ulsterman who is dedicated to both his own and the team’s development.”

25-year-old lock, Kieran Treadwell, who will hit his 100 cap milestone on his next appearance for the province, has consistently delivered for Ulster since arriving in 2016. The Ireland-qualified player is known for his exuberant running and ball-carrying, which is a skillset he is set to continue to bring to the squad over the next two years. On choosing to remain at Ulster, Treadwell, said:

“I really appreciate the opportunity to continue playing in the Ulster shirt. The province has welcomed me with open arms, and it is an honour to represent a club with such great values at the heart of it. I look forward to the seasons ahead – and to once again have the opportunity to feel the energy from the 16th Man in Kingspan Stadium as soon as that is possible.”

McFarland added: “Kieran has really bought into the team culture since joining us in 2016. He brings a lot of athleticism, to both his set-piece and loose play, and is still a young player. I’m very pleased Kieran is going to be a part of our growth over the next two years.”

Andrew Warwick, a Ballymena native, will continue to bring his combative nature and technical excellence to the squad in the years ahead. Since he made his senior Ulster debut against Cardiff Blues in 2014, Warwick has racked-up 128 appearances for the province – including most recently when he played an important role in this season’s Guinness PRO14 Inter-provincial fixtures. Of his future with the club, Warwick, said:

“I’m delighted to have extended my contract with Ulster – it’s always a privilege to represent my home province. I look forward to continuing to do my part to help the team be successful, and the coaches have created a great environment to keep improving as a player. It’s a really exciting time to be a part of this team.”

McFarland added: “Andrew is an important member of our squad as he demonstrated most recently against Connacht and Munster during the festive Inter-pros. A quality scrummager and hard worker in the loose, Andrew adds a lot of experience and technical excellence to our team.”

Completing today’s line-up is 19-year-old scrum-half, Nathan Doak, from Lisburn who made his senior debut against Munster in December – 11 years to the day since he ran out as a mascot against the same opposition.

The youngster played an important role in getting Wallace High School into the Danske Bank Schools’ Cup Final in 2020, before the onset of COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of the match. Doak has also made his presence felt in the recent Ulster ‘A’ games, with an impressive unbeaten run for the province this season, including most recently a home victory over Leinster ‘A’.

Commenting on his deal, which will see Doak spend one year as a Development player before being upgraded to a Senior Professional contract for the following season, he said:

“I am delighted to have signed a new contract with Ulster Rugby to extend my time with the club for a further two years. I am looking forward to working with the Senior team full-time, and to develop further as a player. It is an exciting time for the province as we are building on our ambitions to win silverware, and I hope I can be a part of that moving forward.”

Commenting on the last signing to be announced today, Dan McFarland, concluded: “Although Nathan is not long out of school, he has already played for over a year with Ulster ‘A’ – a team that reached the Celtic Cup final in 2019 – and this has held him in good stead for this season’s ‘A’ Inter-pros. We are looking forward to continuing to support Nathan’s development over the next 2 years.”


Joey Carbery set for return this weekend for Munster



(Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Munster team has been named for Friday night’s Guinness PRO14 clash against Cardiff Blues at the Cardiff Arms Park (8pm).

There are six changes to the starting XV that defeated Edinburgh last time out, while in the replacements there is the welcome return of Joey Carbery who is named in his first match-day squad since January 2020.

The opening try scorer in Murrayfield last weekend, Jack O’Donoghue captains the side for Friday night’s encounter as he and Chris Cloete are joined by Jack O’Sullivan in the back row.

Fineen Wycherley scrums down next to Jean Kleyn in the engine room with Kevin O’Byrne stepping into the front row in between James Cronin and John Ryan.

Shane Daly returns from Ireland camp to retain his position on the left wing with Calvin Nash named on the opposite flank as Mike Haley completes the back three at full-back.

The centre partnership sees Rory Scannell lining up next to Damian de Allende and Nick McCarthy joins JJ Hanrahan in the half-back pairing.

If sprung from the bench Billy Holland will move ahead of Ronan O’Gara for all-time Munster appearances and become the second most capped player for the province for his 241st appearance in red.

Paddy Patterson is in line to make his Munster debut as he provides the scrum-half cover.

Find out you need to know ahead of the game here.

Munster: Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Rory Scannell, Damian de Allende, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Nick McCarthy; James Cronin, Kevin O’Byrne, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue (C), Chris Cloete, Jack O’Sullivan.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Liam O’Connor, Roman Salanoa, Billy Holland, Gavin Coombes, Paddy Patterson, Joey Carbery, Darren Sweetnam.

Player News: Academy lock Thomas Ahern was unavailable for selection after picking up a knock in training this week.

Video | Press Pass

Hear from Defence Coach JP Ferreira and Liam O’Connor ahead of the game.

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6 Nations

Huge boost for Ulster & Ireland as Henderson signs new deal



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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Ulster issue positive update on Coetzee injury



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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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