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I couldn't reject Warriors return, says emotional Callum Black

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster yesterday confirmed the mooted departure of Callum Black at the end of this season with the long-serving loosehead set to rejoin Worcester Warriors.

The American-born but Irish-qualified prop started his pro career at Sixways Stadium in 2005, racking up almost 100 appearances before moving to Belfast, the home of his grandfather, in 2011.

He has since made 141 outings, as well as representing Emerging Ireland in 2014.

Having seen his opportunities limited over the past year and a half, he opted to move back to where it all began.

"I've had some great times at Ulster over the past seven years and I'm proud to have worn the jersey," said Black.

"When I moved to Belfast I had no idea how much myself and my family would love living here. It will be sad to leave but I hope people will understand that rejoining Worcester was an exciting opportunity and the right time for me and my family.

"In the meantime, I'm 100% focused on recovering from injury and helping Ulster."

He will be linking up with Cheetahs coach Rory Duncan next year after it was announced yesterday the South African would be leaving the Guinness PRO14 to join the English side.

Black is on the sidelines at Ulster after missing the Wasps game last time with a back injury. Again he was absent from the team named to face Southern Kings in PRO14 action at Kingspan Stadium tonight (7.35pm).

In what is Jono Gibbes' first sole team selection since the departure of Les Kiss last week, the No.1 jersey instead goes to Andy Warwick, with Kyle McCall in reserve, in a side that will be captained for the first time by lock Alan O'Connor.

Rob Herring has been returned from Ireland duty to take his place on the bench - John Andrew starts at hooker - but Rory Best, Jacob Stockdale and Iain Henderson are unavailable.

Two internationals return from injury, with Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy back in the starting side, while Jonny Stewart and Matty Dalton are on the bench after their U20s exploits in the Six Nations last week.

Having made his previous four senior appearances from the bench, Johnny McPhillips is handed his first start at No.10.

Belfast Telegraph

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