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Herring is delighted to extend Kingspan deal

By Michael Sadlier

Published 02/12/2015

Going nowhere: Rob Herring signed a new two-year deal
Going nowhere: Rob Herring signed a new two-year deal

Less than a week after Rory Best signed on to stay at Ulster until 2018, his understudy Rob Herring has opted to do the same with the announcement yesterday of his own new two-year deal.

It was assumed that Herring - who has impressed this season by skippering Ulster during Best's stint at the World Cup with Ireland - could be on the move after being at the Kingspan since summer 2012 without ever being able to fully edge out his seasoned team-mate as the province's first-choice hooker.

However, the Irish-qualified South African has opted to stay around during the same timeframe as Best's final contract which is a considerable boost for Ulster with their current skipper's Ireland commitments keeping him away during the Six Nations and autumn international periods.

The national squad's game-management strategy will also come into play from time to time, ruling out Best.

Commenting on his contract renewal, Herring said: "I'm very happy to be staying. The last three years have gone really quickly for me and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

"Captaining Ulster while Rory (Best) was away at the World Cup was a massive highlight and a proud moment that I'll remember forever."

Herring, who has so far won a solitary Ireland cap after coming off the bench on the 2014 tour to Argentina, may also come into the reckoning for national boss Joe Schmidt and has been in various national squads and training get-togethers as well as being named for last summer's extended list of players for the World Cup.

Whether he can actually push his way past Richardt Strauss or Sean Cronin to also be Best's back-up at international level remains to be seen but Herring's primary importance is doing a job with Ulster.

He has become a core leader in the Kingspan squad and has shown good form in Best's absences and will doubtless be targeting becoming the province's first choice in the No.2 shirt as a realistic goal further on in his new contract.

The 25-year-old has already made 79 Ulster appearances and has scored three tries since making his debut in August 2012 and, as a front row player, clearly has time on his side.

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