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Belfast-born Wasps man among contenders for Ulster CEO job

By Michael Sadlier

Former Wasps chief executive David Armstrong is the latest name to be linked with filling the CEO role at Ulster Rugby.

The 53-year-old Ulsterman is thought to be a potential candidate to land the top job on a permanent basis after Shane Logan’s recent departure.

Prominent businessman Dr David Dobbin is currently installed as chief executive on a part-time basis during the ongoing recruitment process.

Former Ulster and Ireland player Paul Shields, who is currently team manager at Northampton Saints, is another who could be in line to be the new man in charge at the Kingspan Stadium.

Other names linked to the post, which Logan vacated at the start of September, have included former Ulster and Ireland players Gordon Hamilton and Philip Rainey, as well as Rob Saunders, who played for London Irish and Ireland.

Armstrong could be a strong candidate to land the role due to his background with the English Premiership club where he was chief executive for just over two years.

The Belfast man oversaw Wasps’ move from London to Coventry and was instrumental in the purchase of the Ricoh Arena as the club’s new home.

After being appointed Chief Executive in 2015, Armstrong stepped down in 2017 but has remained on the board at Wasps.

Former Ireland international Shields has been with Northampton both as a player and team manager since 2007, with the 40-year-old retiring from the game in 2009.

The Belfast Telegraph believes that a shortlist of candidates may well now be finalised and that the interview process could be under way later this month.

Meanwhile, Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has ruled out deploying the term 'backlash' regarding Ulster's approach to meeting Connacht tomorrow evening in the wake of his squad's record 64-7 reverse at Munster.

"I'm not big on backlash," said the former Connacht player and assistant coach when addressing Ulster's crushing first defeat of the season.

"I just want to be better. Backlash sort of refers to us bringing an A game because you've been kicked the previous week.

"I don't want that, I just want us to be better. I want the players to be playing at a level I think we're capable of."

McFarland will have Rory Best and Jacob Stockdale back for their first game time of the season, while it is hoped that Iain Henderson will be available along with Sean Reidy.

"I don't believe that the 80 minutes (at Munster) is the big picture of what we're about. I just felt that we got knocked over," he added.

Alluding to Connacht, McFarland identified Ireland internationals Bundee Aki and Kieran Marmion as real threats, should they be playing following last weekend's defeat to Leinster.

"(Connacht) will be smarting and I thought they actually played quite well, Leinster are a good team and Connacht have put in some excellent performances this year," he said.

And turning to his own charges, McFarland said: "They do not rely on me to get them up for the game.

"It is about getting as many people into the boat who are going to be intrinsically motivated to play hard for Ulster.

"They need to have the confidence that they have prepared well and go into a game knowing they are going to play well."

Belfast Telegraph

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