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Deysel will be a big loss to Ulster, admits Soper

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Tough decision: Jean Deysel has been forced to retire through injury

Tough decision: Jean Deysel has been forced to retire through injury

©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Tough decision: Jean Deysel has been forced to retire through injury

Retiring Jean Deysel will be missed around Kingspan Stadium, according to the side's assistant coach Dan Soper.

The four times capped South African announced the decision to hang up his boots yesterday with a number of ongoing leg injuries believed to the primary cause.

Having signed for Ulster after a brief stay in Munster, he would ultimately only manage 16 outings for the northern province due to a succession of injuries, the last game of his professional career coming in the record defeat at Thomond Park last month.

"Jean has just had a culmination of lower-limb injuries, certainly since I have been here," said Soper. "Going back even before that, I think and that's been the decided factor.

"In the short time I have been here, Jean has been a wonderful professional and he is great to talk to. I have had a number of conversations with him about the breakdown and he is such a good jackler over the ball.

"So from chatting to him and talking to the young guys, they learn off him. He was always willing to help and share information, and maybe he hasn't been able to contribute as much on the pitch as he would have liked, he has always been there for the young guys post-session or giving them a bit of feedback.

"He is a real gentleman off the pitch, although it might be hard to think that in how he plays. But he will be missed around the place and it is disappointing when someone's career finishes in those circumstances."

Deysel also represented the Sharks and Lions in Super Rugby as well as a spell in Japan with Toyota Verblitz. His Springboks debut came against Italy in 2009 and he was handed his first start two years later against the All Blacks in the famous Wellington 'Cake Tin'.

"Looking back over the last 15 years, there were some highs, some lows, a good couple of laughs, and a few tears as well, but the thing that made the journey worthwhile is the people I met along the way," said Deysel.

"2018 will be the end of my rugby career, but also the start of a new journey off the field.

"I would like to firstly thank the Lord Jesus Christ for blessing me with the ability to play and then secondly my family and close friends, the Lions and Sharks franchises, team-mates and coaches over the past 15 years for their support, encouragement and motivation.

"We really enjoyed our time in Belfast and it will always be our home away from home. I want to thank Ulster Rugby for giving me the opportunity to represent this proud province. I am taking back many memories to cherish and will definitely miss the support and friendliness of the fans since our arrival in Belfast."

Without Deysel in their number, Ulster will take on Dragons tomorrow night.

The province are expected to be boosted by the returns of Rob Herring and Henry Speight after toe and knee injuries respectively, while there are not expected to be any restrictions placed upon those who were yesterday called up for the national side's November schedule.

There were no new injury concerns emerging from the Champions Cup defeat to Racing in Paris last week, but John Cooney will remain a doubt having missed out on that game with an injury to his AC joint.

One area Ulster have been looking to tighten up this week is the breakdown. They started well in La Defense Arena, bagging two tries in the opening 25 minutes before their expensively assembled hosts seized the upper hand.

"Every single breakdown is so different so what we are trying to do is to give the players as many tools as they can have that they can deal with all those different scenarios that pop up in front of them on a game night," added Soper.

"Dan (McFarland) has been very big on some things around it - our fight when we are on the ground and the responsibility of the ball carrier. It is starting with him and there has been a lot on that, but there has been a lot of technical work as well, our speed to the contact, using the likes of Mike Lowry as an example because he is one of the best at getting to the breakdown quickly and putting himself in a good low position, in which he obviously has an advantage over some of the other boys.

"There is a lot of work being done on it, there is also a lot of video review being done and individuals looking at clips and then trying to mimic those and how we train with those.

"The breakdown is a tough area to train, so it is about making sure we get the technical (aspect) and then ramp it up for a short period of time with some collision and then if you see good learning and understanding in the match then you do not have to cover it off just as much."

Belfast Telegraph