Luke Marshall new deal a perfect present, but Scholes will go
The intensity of competition for midfield starting spots at Ulster is certainly not going to lessen any time soon now that Luke Marshall has agreed a two-year contract extension.
The deal ensures that the talented Ireland international - who turns 25 today - will be around until summer 2018 though he will face quite a battle to get regular game-time when all those in the squad who can play centre are available to Les Kiss.
Marshall - who shipped an ankle injury early in Sunday's defeat at Cardiff but will hopefully be in the mix for tomorrow night's must-win home game against Zebre - has been in fine form this season, having scored five tries in 14 appearances.
"I think it's a great signing," said Director of Rugby Kiss of Marshall's new deal while mention was also made of a high level of interest elsewhere in securing the player's signature.
"It's a great statement that Luke's decided to stay. It's a competitive area for us but they'll all back each other to make the starting team so it makes my job difficult."
Marshall, who has played for Ulster 76 times, has won six Ireland caps and is part of the current Six Nations squad.
Rory Scholes, though, will be departing to join Edinburgh at the end of the season.
The 22-year-old winger, who can also play full-back, has agreed to join former Ulster coach Alan Solomons' squad on a two-year deal with the decision doubtless made in light of the difficulty in guaranteeing a starting spot in the back three which is another hugely competitive area of the squad.
Scholes has played 22 times for Ulster - mostly this season - and has scored five tries. Interestingly, Kiss intimated that the player might end up back in Belfast again.
"He saw the opportunity to get out and explore something a little bit different. Hopefully he sees his way back here at some stage," said Kiss.