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Coach Dundon can't wait for Kingspan adventure

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster have confirmed the final addition to their staff for next season with the news that former Leinster hooker Aaron Dundon will arrive as the province's new scrum coach.

Director of Rugby Les Kiss had been seeking a set-piece expert after bringing in head coach Jono Gibbes and backs specialist Dwayne Peel to replace Neil Doak and Allen Clarke.

The Kingspan outfit also confirmed that former Ireland out-half Niall Malone will remain in his position of skills coach and video analyst.

Dundon spent last year at Grenoble, starting the season on a coaching ticket headed by his fellow former Leinster hooker Bernard Jackman.

He arrives in Belfast highly rated by his former boss, while also having been a player under the incoming Gibbes.

His path to professional rugby was, however, circuitous.

The native Kiwi came to the northern hemisphere in 2003, originally planning for a quick return after seeing a bit of the world and visiting brothers living in London and Canada.

Having become involved with junior club Seapoint when he came to Ireland, he moved on to the All-Ireland League with Clontarf before signing up with Leinster after a trial with now Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

Having racked up almost a half century of appearances during his spell at the RDS, Dundon is looking forward to getting back into Irish rugby.

"I am delighted to be joining the coaching team at Ulster this summer," he said.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for me professionally and it was an easy decision to make. I am particularly looking forward to working with the coaching team, as well as the strong group of players currently in the set-up.

"I'm enthusiastic about where we can take the club and am looking forward to getting started in pre-season."

While he has only been coaching in the pro game for one year, he was part of the Clontarf staff that twice led the side to the AIL title, and beat out more experienced candidates for the post.

With the dynamic between the newly formed coaching ticket sure to be closely monitored next season, Kiss thinks Dundon's experience of the physical forward battles in the Top14 will be a valuable asset.

"Aaron is a very good technical coach who relates well to the modern challenges of the scrum," he said. "He will also be a resource for our line-out throwers and will assist with our skill development.

"He has worked under some of the best coaches in the game and, in particular, the experience he has gained of the set-piece in France can only be good for us."

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