Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Third Springbok bound for Ulster

Capture of Ludik completes Ravenhill's non-Irish quota

Captured: Louis Ludik
Captured: Louis Ludik

Ulster supporters are hoping that the capture of Louis Ludik will plug one of the sizeable gaps following the loss of a dozen players.

But if there are to be any more signings, they will have to be of the Irish-qualified variety for Ludik's signing completes Ulster's non-Irish-eligible quota for 2014-15.

Ludik is the third South African to have enlisted for next season, the others being 31-year-old Springboks lock, Franco Van der Merwe, and 25-year-old tight-head Wiehahn Herbst, the pair recruited to replace now-retired Johann Muller and Gloucester-bound John Afoa.

Ruan Pienaar and Nick Williams are Ulster's other overseas players for 2014-15.

The signature of the 27-year-old South African – as forecast in Thursday's Belfast Telegraph – may go some way towards allaying fans' serious concerns over the loss of so many key players. In addition to Afoa, Tom Court, Sean Doyle, James McKinney, Adam Macklin, Niall Annett, David McIlwaine, Chris Farrell and Ian Porter have moved on, while captain Muller, Paddy Wallace and Chris Cochrane have retired.

In addition, it is feared Stephen Ferris may be forced to quit as a result of the serious ankle injury he suffered in November 2012. A surgeon's verdict on his situation is imminent.

The province's senior management personnel are scheduled to meet members of the Ulster Rugby Supporters' Club for a Q&A evening in early June and among the issues those fans wish to raise are the policy on replacements and the system for nurturing home-grown talent which now has become another concern.

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