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Ulster coach Neil Doak looks set to make step up to top rugby job

By Ali Gordon

While Ulster await news from South Africa on the extent of Ruan Pienaar's knee injury, there is growing speculation that assistant coach Neil Doak may take over as head coach in the wake of the departures of David Humphreys and Mark Anscombe in the off-season.

With interim coach Les Kiss also ready to depart the Kingspan Stadium and return to his primary role as Ireland assistant coach next month, Ulster are believed to be about to name a more permanent head coach at least for the remainder of the season while they ponder their long-term options.

It is believed that former Ulster scrum-half Doak, and indeed the existing coaching set-up of Jonny Bell and Allen Clarke, may be offered the chance to take charge, having worked closely with Kiss during pre-season and the beginning of the current PRO12 campaign.

The 42-year-old former Ireland cricket international would certainly be a good fit for Ulster and has forged a reputation as an attack coach with insight and vision.

He has also worked with Kiss on a full Ireland tour and this summer worked with Emerging Ireland in Romania.

Ruan blow: Pages 54-55

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