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Ulster Rugby expecting to make head coach announcement within weeks as shortlist compiled


By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster Director of Operations Bryn Cunningham has said an announcement on a new head coach is due in a few weeks.

Earlier this month it was announced Jono Gibbes will head home in the summer, and with Director of Rugby Les Kiss already having left this year, there is leadership void to be filled, with Cunningham revealing they are in the process of deciding upon a shortlist.

Plenty of names have been mooted already, including former Connacht and Edinburgh man Michael Bradley, now of Zebre, but Cunningham added that nobody has yet been approached.

"We're not at that point yet," he said. "We're having to try and move as quickly as we can in the coaching department without making any knee-jerk reactions, so at the moment we're just trying to shortlist with the IRFU and then we'll move to a position of trying to interview and, hopefully, we'll be in a position to make an announcement."

With the province struggling to make the PRO14 play-offs for the second season in a row, and now unsure if they'll even be playing in the Champions Cup next year, it is an appointment that the powers-that-be cannot afford to get wrong.

A rebuild is required and it's imperative that the right man, and one with the stomach for a fight, is at the helm.

Cunningham admitted it's a balance between taking the time to decide upon the best candidate and acting before he is snapped up by somebody else.

"You want to make sure that you don't lose any options so you want to move relatively quickly and obviously each individual will be in a slightly different position. They may be under intense pressure to re-sign where they currently are or there may be competing clubs looking for the same position so yeah we can't hang around for too long.

"We're fortunate enough in that the number of coaches that we looked at at the present, nobody has gone off the radar."

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