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Ian Humphreys tipped for key Ulster role

By Jonathan Bradley

Having played the last of his record 189 games for Ulster, now-retired centre Paddy Wallace is happy to talk about his native province's prospects.

And he has been enthusiastic in his endorsement of the decision to re-sign 32-year-old fly-half Ian Humphreys from London Irish.

Wallace played alongside him for four seasons before he left to try his luck in the Aviva Premiership. Based on that experience, he has no doubts as to what Humphreys will bring next year.

With Niall O'Connor and James McKinney in turn having failed to hold down the role as Paddy Jackson's understudy over the past two seasons, Wallace thinks the vastly experienced Humphreys is just the man for that crucial job.

"It's a really good signing for Ulster," was Wallace's reaction to the news that Humphreys is on his way back to Ravenhill. "I was sad to see him go when he left because I always enjoyed playing with him.

"He's a very good player and it'll give us a lot more depth in the squad.

"He can be an experienced head to fall back on if Paddy is going to be involved in Ireland camps.

"I know Ruan (Pienaar) can play there, but his best position is at nine and he doesn't really enjoy doing it often so Ian can fill that void and hopefully recreate the form that he showed when he was here three years ago."

Indeed, Wallace was upbeat about the overall situation at Ravenhill, saying: "Ulster Rugby is certainly in good hands going forward."

And comparing things with when he started, he recalled: "When I arrived here 15 years ago we were coming off a very bad season. The changes that I've witnessed progressively over the years have been outstanding.

"We're in a really strong position financially and that has allowed us to bring in some real quality players to go along with the young guys coming through."

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