Three to watch: Ulster Rugby

Rich Dore
13 July 2018

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It’s all change at the Kingspan Stadium for 2018/19 with plenty of alterations in the coaching and playing department at Ulster Rugby.

Billy Burns

Englishman Dan McFarland is due to take over as the new head coach, with Simon Easterby providing support in the interim while Jared Payne is the new defence coach and Dan Soper will act as assistant coach to McFarland.

There have been some player departures and Tommy Bowe has retired but also plenty of exciting signings – we picked out three to watch out for next season.

Jordi Murphy

Murphy arrived at the Kingspan over the summer after signing a two-year deal with Ulster in December and it’s safe to say the Ulster faithful are eager to see him in action.

The former Leinster flanker only made sporadic appearances in the 2017/18 campaign and never quite got established in the Leinster starting XV, leading him to seek pastures new.

And Leinster’s loss is Ulster’s gain, with Murphy’s experience in not only the Guinness PRO14 but also on the international stage for Ireland making him a valuable addition to the side.

Under the tutelage of new boss McFarland, Murphy could become a vital member of the Ulster squad in seasons to come and has already proved he’s one of the strongest back-row forwards in the Championship.

Billy Burns

The capturing of out-half Billy Burns from Gloucester has shocked some fans of the English club with the local boy having made his debut for the club as a 17-year-old.

Now 24, Burns has signed a two-year contract with Ulster and will compete with Johnny McPhillips, Angus Curtis and Michael Lowry for the fly-half shirt.

Burns has spoken of his intention to make it into Joe Schmidt’s Rugby World Cup squad and brings with him 100 appearances at the senior level, plus that determination to prove himself at international level.

The playmaker has scored more than 300 points for Gloucester and offers a sharp passing game with an eye for a mercurial play.

Will Addison

Will Addison is another new addition to the Ulster team ahead of the 2018/19 season and his arrival has been greatly anticipated since the move was announced in March 2018.

Addison made 112 appearances for Sale Sharks, scoring 158 points in his time at the Manchester club and showing form that led to calls for him to be included in Eddie Jones’ England squad.

Addison though decided it was time to leave Sale for the storied Belfast club and is hoping to cause a stir in the Guinness PRO14 next season.

The 25-year-old centre has proved to be one of the bravest players in the English Premiership in recent years, throwing himself into any tackle and also possessing of the pace to cause problems out wide.

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