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Ronald Raaymakers' arrival is a huge boost for Kiss

By Michael Sadlier

Ulster have moved to stem their second row crisis by signing New Zealander Ronald Raaymakers on a short-term contract from Counties Manukau Steelers.

With Dan Tuohy and Iain Henderson sidelined and, crucially, looking likely to miss the first four rounds of the European Rugby Champions Cup, Ulster have addressed the situation by bringing in the 24-year-old Raaymakers to provide much-needed cover for what is an unspecified period of time.

The Kiwi will arrive next month to provide a fourth second row option alongside the currently fit Franco van der Merwe, Lewis Stevenson and Neil McComb and, as such, Raaymakers will also be included in Ulster's initial squad announcement for the start of their European campaign.

He will join up with the squad in Belfast following the completion of his involvement in the ITM Cup in New Zealand, though it is not entirely clear if this will be after the Steelers' last scheduled game, which is on October 12 and less than a week before Ulster's opening European pool game at Leicester Tigers.

He has represented the Steelers – who are coached by former All Black legend Tana Umaga – 50 times and is due to skipper the side, who are currently well off the pace and sit one from bottom in the ITM Cup table, in Saturday's game against bottom side Wellington.

Ulster's new signing has also played for New Zealand at U20 level and, in 2013, made two appearances for the Auckland Blues in Super Rugby.

Speaking about his contract, Raaymakers said: "It has always been an ambition of mine to play overseas and when the opportunity came up to join Ulster Rugby I had no hesitation in saying, 'yes'.

"I look forward to joining up with the squad next month and to playing my part in helping Ulster Rugby be successful this season."

Belfast Telegraph

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