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Ireland World Cup chance key to Jack McGrath's Ulster move

Jack McGrath
Jack McGrath
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

New Ulster prop Jack McGrath believes Kingspan Stadium is the place where he could play his best rugby.

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Reported in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph (right), the 29-year-old British and Irish Lion said the move from his native Leinster was a difficult decision but one that he feels will benefit his career moving forward.

Having won 54 caps for Ireland, as well as three for the Lions, the loosehead appeared just once in the Six Nations having lost his place at the RDS Arena following a hip injury.

While his current central contract had only one more year left to run, McGrath spoke yesterday about "looking beyond" the upcoming World Cup in Japan.

"This was a difficult decision but one I believe will put me in the best position to continue to perform at the top end of the game," he said.

"I have enjoyed a huge amount of success at Leinster, but I feel that looking beyond the World Cup to the next phase of my career, I will benefit from the opportunity within the Ulster environment.

"I am now fully fit after a disrupted start to the season and I'm looking forward to putting all my energy into helping Leinster's drive to defend the European and PRO14 titles and finishing this season on a high."

Loosehead was a problem position for the province coming into the season but the emergence of Academy man Eric O'Sullivan has provided a huge boost, while Andy Warwick has had a good season too.

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland said that McGrath will help the squad's young players such as O'Sullivan to develop their game.

"We are delighted to be welcoming Jack on board next season," he said.

"It is hugely encouraging to see a player of his calibre express the desire to join us.

"Jack's quality on the field is undoubtable, and his experience of playing at the highest level.

"He will be a hugely valuable asset to the club as we continue to develop a promising group of young forwards."

David Nucifora, the IRFU Performance Director, said: "Jack has made a very tough decision which he believes will advance his case for selection for Ireland.

"You have to respect a player with such ambition."

Rory Best, meanwhile, reflecting on his injury picked up against Leinster which will keep him out for six weeks, said: "On Saturday night and Sunday morning I was a bit sore and a bit worried so I was as happy as I could be when I got the scan."

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