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It was now or never for Addison to join Ulster



Ulster’s call: Will Addison could not turn down his mother’s province

Ulster’s call: Will Addison could not turn down his mother’s province

Ulster’s call: Will Addison could not turn down his mother’s province

As Ulster’s rugby players gathered in Victoria Square to open a new Kukri pop-up shop yesterday, boxer Tyson Fury was across town in CastleCourt undergoing a public workout ahead of his weekend fight on Carl Frampton’s Windsor Park undercard.

The two will be competing for eyeballs again come Saturday evening and, while the fare on offer at Kingspan Stadium as Gloucester arrive for a friendly may not be classed as being of the heavyweight variety, it will still give fans an opportunity for a first glimpse of some of the side’s new arrivals and highly thought-of youngsters.

For one such summer signing, running out for an Irish province will be the fulfilment of a long-held ambition.

With his mother hailing from Kesh, the same County Fermanagh town that produced Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty, Will Addison has always been aware of his lineage, and indeed had a clause in his Sale contract that he could leave the Manchester-based Premiership outfit should one of the four provinces seek his services.

And when Ulster came calling, it was a familiar voice on the other end of the phone.

“I have a good connection with Dwayne Peel from my time playing with him at Sale Sharks for four years,” Addison said of the Ulster backs coach who has essentially been running point in recent months while the province wait for the arrival of Dan McFarland.

“It was probably April when he got in touch with me just to see where my head was at.”

Leaving Sale was always going to be a wrench for Addison. Captaining the side, he was a local lad having grown up on a Cumbrian farm and then attended university in Manchester, studying a degree in business studies that had to be briefly interrupted when exams clashed with his representing England at the Under-20s World Cup.

But playing in Ireland, perhaps even one day representing the national side, was a chance he could not pass up.

“I was captain at Sale, it was a club that I loved and was invested in,” he said. “But the opportunity to come to Ulster was one I couldn’t turn down.

“I think at that stage of my career it was a now or never moment, I didn’t want to end my career in 10 years thinking ‘what if?’ even though I would probably have had a great career at Sale.

“I’m really thankfully to (Director of Rugby) Steve Diamond who was a mentor and a kind of a father figure for me at Sale. He made sure that there was a clause in the contract that if an Irish team came calling and I felt it was the right time for me to make a move (the option) was in there.

“I think I’ve made the right decision so far.”

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Having settled quickly in Belfast since arriving in late June, helped by family in Fermanagh only too willing to open up their homes, and crucially their kitchens at the weekends, the 25-year-old is eagerly anticipating his first match action this weekend, where he is expected to be one of more than 30 players used by Ulster who are set to field a different team in each half.

Adison arrives with a reputation for versatility, although prefers to play at centre. His ability to line out at full-back seems sure to be utilised in the seaAson’s opening weeks however, especially given Louis Ludik has been joined on the treatment table by Jacob Stockdale and fellow new arrival Henry Speight seemingly bound for the wing.

“We’ll get a taste of what the Kingspan is about on Saturday and I’m really excited about that,” he said.

“I think it is a positive for me throughout my carer that I have played wing, full-back and centre. I just love being on the pitch and if it helps me do that then I’m really happy.

“It is unfortunate that Jacob has had a knock but I’m sure he’ll come back very strong. The addition of Henry Speight is a very strong signing and we’re looking forward to seeing how he goes after a bit of training time.

“I think we have the bedrock of a really good team and we have some really good young players coming through, the likes of Stewart Moore and Angus Curtis in the backline who are going to be pushing myself and some of the older players.

“There’s a very strong squad and I think that competition is going to bring a very high standard this year.”

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