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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.

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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How to watch Ulster in the United Rugby Championship

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Ulster Rugby

Ulster Rugby will begin its exciting journey into the new United Rugby Championship this Friday night, hosting Glasgow Warriors under the lights at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm).

We are delighted to be able to welcome up to 15,000 supporters at Friday’s fixture, and tickets are still available. For more information on Friday’s event, or to buy tickets, please click here.

The introduction of South Africa’s four elite teams to the URC has created a challenge unlike any other, with two hemispheres colliding as the best of Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales take on the best of South Africa.

If you’re planning on following Ulster’s URC campaign from home, we have pulled together this handy guide on how to watch all the action for supporters in the UK and Ireland…

Premier Sports

Premier Sports is the only place for supporters in the UK to watch every single United Rugby Championship game live this season. You can follow Ulster home and away as Premier Sports will broadcast all 151 games, including eight games per round plus coverage of all the knock-out drama and Grand Final.

Ulster legends Stephen Ferris, Andrew Trimble and Paul Marshall, along with presenters Graham Little and Mark Robson, are among the talent returning to the screens this season.

Fans can tune in on Sky, Virgin TV, or online using the Premier Sports Player from start to finish – you can subscribe now at premiersports.com to watch all 151 games live for less than £1 a game.

BBC NI

Ulster Rugby returns to BBC Northern Ireland this season with live free-to-air coverage of six of the province’s home matches in the inaugural United Rugby Championship.

In addition to televising live the home fixtures against Benetton, Emirates Lions, Connacht, Cardiff, Munster and the Cell C Sharks, every Ulster URC fixture will be available on BBC iPlayer 24 hours after each round.

A new weekly TV programme – ‘The Ulster Rugby Show’ – featuring a line-up of special guests and pundits will take a light-hearted look at the latest news and talking points from the province and across the new tournament. The first episode will air this Thursday 23 September at 10.00pm on BBC2 NI.

RTE / TG4

RTE and TG4 have also picked up broadcast rights to show ten games on free-to-air TV this season.

Among the fixtures being covered live by the Ireland-based broadcasters are the three away interprovincial derbies against Connacht, Leinster and Munster.

URC TV

New for the 2021/22 season, URC TV is an online streaming service giving fans the opportunity to watch every game live and on demand.

A free service showing a range of highlights, archive matches and snackable videos, will be available in all countries including the UK and South Africa (fans in these countries can watch all games live on Premier Sports and Super Sport respectively).

Fans watching in Ireland, Europe (excluding UK), US and a number of other territories, URC TV will also offer a range of subscription packages including a Season Pass (all games), Ireland Pass (all games featuring Irish Clubs), Weekend Passes (all games within a round) and individual games passes.

For more information, or to sign up, visit www.urc.tv.

Source – Ulster Rugby

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Sharks name squad of 34 for URC trip to Europe, Pienaar included.

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Sean Everitt has picked two, and sometimes three, players in each position given the COVID-19 protocols around international travel and proper isolation and quarantine practices, as well as accounting for any injuries that may be picked up within this four match period.

Ruan Pienaar and Tian Meyer have both been included in the squad, having signed loan agreements with the Cell C Sharks from the Toyota Cheetahs, while there are welcome returns from injury for the lock pairing of Ruben van Heerden and Hyron Andrews.

Phepsi Buthelezi continues to lead a settled and experienced squad of players in the absence of Lukhanyo Am, who will take over the captaincy on his return from Springbok duty.

“The boys are up for the challenge, we have some experienced players who have played in the Pro16 before and have had a taste of European conditions, and we have coaching staff who have coached at the highest level; we’re all confident that we can do well overseas,” said Everitt.

“We’ve taken a young squad mixed with some older heads with experience and it will be exciting to see what these guys can deliver against opposition that we don’t see too often, nor play against.”

The Cell C Sharks kick off their campaign against Munster next Saturday, and in round two (Saturday 2 October) travel to Scotland to take on Glasgow Warriors before heading to Wales for rounds three and four, against the Ospreys (Friday 8 October) before rounding off the month-long tour against Cardiff (Saturday 16 October).

“The boys are excited about experiencing a new competition, the URC is a tough tournament that brings in new challenges and different opposition but the guys are up for the challenge after a very good Currie Cup and a good year,” added Everitt.

The Cell C Sharks touring squad:

Forwards: Dan Jooste, Dylan Richardson, Fez Mbatha, Gebrandt Grobler, Henco Venter, Hyron Andrews, James Venter, Kerron van Vuuren, Khutha Mchunu, Khwezi Mona, Le Roux Roets, Lourens Adriaanse, Mpilo Gumede, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), Reniel Hugo, Ruben van Heerden, Thembelani Bholi, Thomas du Toit, Wiehahn Herbst.

Backs: Anthony Volmink, Boeta Chamberlain, Curwin Bosch, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, Marnus Potgieter, Murray Koster, Ruan Pienaar, Rynhardt Jonker, Sanele Nohamba, Thaakir Abrahams, Tian Meyer, Werner Kok, Yaw Penxe.

Source – South Africa Rugby

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Ulster sign World Cup winner Vermeulen

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Ulster Rugby have today signed one of the biggest names in world rugby, Duane Vermeulen, who will join the club following the Autumn Tests in November.

Nicknamed the Thor of rugby, the 6ft 4in 18 stone Springbok will pull on the famous white jersey at Kingspan Stadium until 2023.

In 2019, Vermeulen was crowned Player of the Match as South Africa stormed their way to World Cup victory, lifting the Webb Ellis trophy.

The 35-year-old brings with him experience gained in both Super Rugby and the Top 14 and will join the United Rugby Championship in November once he has completed international duties during the Autumn Tests.

Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said:

“Duane is clearly a world class player who, as the current World Champions’ starting 8 and MVP from the last RWC Final, is set to bring depth and experience to our really talented group of back rowers.

“As well as being an undeniable talent on the pitch, I know Duane will play an important role going forward in strengthening the winning mindset we are building as a squad.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise Bryn Cunningham’s brilliant work in orchestrating this deal from start to finish. It was always going to be a difficult ask to find a difference-making 8 but Bryn has definitely achieved that.”

Duane Vermeulen added:

“Ulster and myself had detailed discussions about the club’s values, expectations and the potential role I can play going forward. It appealed and resonated with me to a point where I got very excited and decided to commit myself to this Ulster journey. I cannot wait to become part of the Ulster family and to serve as best I can.”

Ulster Rugby has been actively seeking a world class addition to the squad following the planned deal with Leone Nakarawa falling through in June.

Source – Ulster Rugby

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