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Pro14

Ulster name team to face Southern Kings

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster squad has been named for Saturday’s crucial Guinness PRO14 tie against Isuzu Southern Kings (Kingspan Stadium, 5.30pm).

Dan McFarland’s men are unbeaten in their last six matches in all competitions and they will hope to continue that recent good form as they battle for a play-off spot in Conference B.

There are five personnel changes to the team that managed a bonus point win away to Dragons earlier this month. Four of the new faces are up front, with loosehead prop Andy Warwick, lock Ian Nagle and back rows Matty Rea and Marcell Coetzee introduced to the starting pack.

Coetzee will make a welcome return from injury, having not featured since January’s decisive Heineken Champions Cup defeat of Leicester at Welford Road.

Rob Herring and Marty Moore will join Warwick in the front row, while captain Alan O’Connor partners Nagle in the second row. Nick Timoney, so impressive at Rodney Parade in his last outing, is named as the other loose forward.

The only alteration to the backline is at scrumhalf, with Dave Shanahan coming in to partner Billy Burns at half back. Stuart McCloskey and Darren Cave continue in midfield, and pacy wingers Rob Lyttle and Rob Baloucoune are again selected in the back three alongside Louis Ludik.

John Andrew, Wiehahn Herbst and Tom O’Toole will provide front row cover on the bench, while Kieran Treadwell and Clive Ross are the other forward options. John Cooney, Michael Lowry and Angus Kernohan, who helped Ireland U20s to a Six Nations Grand Slam success last weekend, are the backline replacements.

Ulster team to play Isuzu Southern Kings, Guinness PRO14 Round 18, Saturday 23rd March, Kingspan Stadium (5.30pm):
(15-9): L Ludik; R Baloucoune, D Cave, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; B Burns, D Shanahan;
(1-8): A Warwick, R Herring, M Moore, A O’Connor (captain), I Nagle, M Rea, N Timoney, M Coetzee;
Replacements (16-23): J Andrew, W Herbst, T O’Toole, K Treadwell, C Ross, J Cooney, M Lowry, A Kernohan.

Team announcement from Ulster Rugby

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Pro14

Ulster Rugby Lad meets… Ross Kane

Ross Kane speaks to Peter Lockhart

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Ross Kane is a card-carrying member of the beefy brethren known in rugby circles as the front row club.

He has become an important player for Ulster, deputising for Marty Moore and becoming an important part of the ‘new generation’ at Ulster.

Here, he chats to Peter Lockhart from Ulster Rugby Lad about his propping destiny, his rugby hero and puppy problems.

Who or what made you passionate about rugby?

My passion for rugby really grew when I joined Methody in 1st year, watching all the older guys and friends of mine make it through and play professionally.

Who was the player you most admired growing up?

It’s hard to look much further than Rory Best for the most admired player growing up as he was achieving what every young player coming through Ulster wanted to achieve. Finally making my debut and getting to play alongside him was a very proud moment for me.

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What made you want to play as a prop?

Many people will tell you that you don’t choose to be a prop, being a prop chooses you. Being a bit bigger in school always had me in the front row and I never managed to escape!

What would you be doing if you weren’t playing professional rugby?

If I wasn’t playing rugby, I’d hope to be working in the construction industry as I’m in the middle of finishing my engineering degree.

What advice would you give to any young aspiring front row players?

Advice I would give to young front rowers would be to soak up as much information as possible. Small details will put you ahead of other players.

How do you get into the right mindset before a game? Do you have any pre-match routines or rituals?

I don’t have any pre match rituals, as long I know I have prepared well I know I’ll be in the right mindset for the game.

What are your expectations for Ulster in the next few years?

My expectations for Ulster over the next few years are to be consistently putting ourselves in a position to compete at the top level.

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Is there a failure or apparent failure that set you up for a later success?

I think personally not getting selected for the academy after my U20 season really made me realise that I needed to change my mindset and approach to rugby and thankfully 2 years later I was selected for a summer trial for the academy.

What hobbies/obsessions do you explore in your free time?

I’ve recently just got 2 puppies with my girlfriend so most of my free time will be used trying to teach them to not go to the toilet in the house.

Thanks Ross!

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Pro14

Ulster Rugby announce new Club Captain.

Captain for the 2019/20 season.

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Ulster Rugby this morning announced who will succeed Rory Best as the Captain of Ulster Rugby for the 2019/20 season.

Iain Henderson is the chosen man for the job. The Irish & British Lion will return to captain Ulster following probable selection for Ireland’s Rugby World Cup campaign.

The 27-year-old, who is currently in Ireland’s training squad ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019, has represented his home Province on 105 occasions.

Henderson started his rugby journey at Academy RFC, before continuing his development at Belfast Royal Academy.

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The versatile forward represented Ulster and Ireland at various age-grade levels on route to making his senior provincial debut in April 2012, against Connacht.

Henderson has since become a key figure for Ulster and Ireland, winning 44 caps for the latter. He played in four of Ireland’s games during the 6 Nations Grand Slam success of 2018, while he also featured in 2014 and 2015 Championship wins.

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Premiership

New ‘British League’ to Begin Within Two Years

A club chairman has claimed that a ‘British League’ will be made within the next two years merging two major leagues together according to reports

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An anonymous leading club chairman has told The Rugby Paper that a British League could be created in the next two years.

It is believed that the CVC group, whom are looking to secure a 27 percent share in the PRO14 following a similar deal with the English Premiership earlier this year, are looking to make a major change to the leagues.

The former owners of Formula One and Moto GP are apparently looking to merge the two competitions if they claim a stake in the PRO14.

With a deal sealed to buy into the Premiership during last season, the 13 clubs that own Premier Rugby Ltd will be receiving around £13.5m a piece following the completion of a deal worth around £275m.

It is thought that a similar deal would be on the cards for the PRO14 side’s if they claim their stake in the competition.

The merging of the competitions is of the best interest of the CVC group according to the source and they believe that the Welsh clubs would be very encouraged by the idea.

“A British League will happen in two years’ time. It will happen because it is the best outcome for the game in the four home countries and for CVC. It will appeal to the Welsh regions in particular and the Premiership clubs. Not one is profitable with the exception of Exeter and a British League will go along way towards providing stability,” they said.

The source went on to further discuss how the move could be a real boost for the Welsh regions especially.

“In Wales, it will be seen as the only opportunity to be sustainable Their regions lost between £5m-£6m last year. They have been kept going by the generosity of a few backers and the danger is they will get even fewer unless something radical is done. Fixtures like Cardiff Blues against Bristol, Dragons versus Gloucester, Ospreys against Bath and Scarlets against Saracens will stop the downward spiral of attendances in Wales,” they continued.

Although the Welsh regions appear to be the biggest beneficiaries of the potential merger, it seems as though the Irish provinces are not guaranteed to be involved and the league could go ahead without them.

“Commercially, they could be as much as 50 per cent better off. It will be important to have all four Irish provinces on board but, if necessary, we will go ahead and do it without them,” they finished.

The league is an interesting possibility, but it could cause potential problems by undermining the Champions and Challenge Cups, as well as they question of what happens to the Irish teams if they don’t sign up? All is up in the air at the moment and we will have to wait and see if this project becomes a reality.

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