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Poll: Who is Ulster's best tighthead of the last decade?


Our three options for Ulster's best tighthead of the decade: John Afoa, BJ Botha and Marty Moore
Our three options for Ulster's best tighthead of the decade: John Afoa, BJ Botha and Marty Moore
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

As we continue to look for Ulster's best XV of the 2010s, it's now time to have your say on the province's greatest tighthead prop of the decade.

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Vote for the rest of the positions here: Loosehead prop - Hooker - Locks - Blindside flanker

Here's a look at the three contenders:

1. BJ Botha

The decade was still relatively young when Springbok BJ Botha left Ulster for Munster but, having arrived from the Sharks in 2008, he was the regular tighthead during what was an uneven few years for the side as a whole.

He amassed 58 outings in the white jersey and, while probably now better remembered for his time in Munster, was a popular figure with the Ravenhill faithful.

A big-name import that pre-empted the likes of Johann Muller and Ruan Pienaar, Botha arrived in Belfast with a World Cup winners medal to his name. He had long-since fine-tuned his scrummaging technique and in his swansong season, Ulster reached a Heineken Cup quarter-final which was lost to the Northampton Saints.

In the second act of his Irish rugby career, made over 100 appearances for the Thomond Park outfit before waving farewell in 2016.


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Former Ulster tighthead BJ Botha

2. John Afoa

Following hot on Botha's heels was All Black John Afoa. The Kiwi was, like his Springbok predecessor, a World Cup winner by the time he arrived in Belfast having come off the bench when New Zealand finally got over the line in 2011.

He would make his Ulster debut that same Autumn against Connacht and was a key figure in the side that made that season's Heineken Cup final, although he missed the semi-final against Edinburgh through suspension.

He was still only 30 years old when his departure was announced, with then director of rugby David Humphreys hailing his professionalism amidst the challenges of living and working in Belfast when his family had returned to New Zealand.

Widely expected to head home after his contract ended in 2014, Afoa instead opted for a switch to the Aviva Premiership and Gloucester. He's still going strong today, now in the colours of the much-talked about Bristol Bears.

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Former Ulster tighthead John Afoa

3. Marty Moore

Still a relative newcomer to Ulster having signed from Wasps in the summer of 2018, the former Leinsterman has been impressive since making a belated debut for the side last October.

Between that very first outing against Leicester Tigers last October, through to the season-ending injury he suffered in April, Moore was a mainstay of the Ulster front-row, the ten-times capped Irish international locking out a scrum that had been something of an unsteady force in recent seasons.

Challenged by Dan McFarland to up his involvements away from the set-piece after his spell in England's often forward-dominated league, he has been a surprisingly regular contributor to the Ulster defensive effort and an often overlooked threat at the breakdown.

While it remains early days, and there are some serious operators ahead of him in the shape of Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter, Moore is still relatively young for a prop and it's no stretch to suggest maintaining his current form could see him push for a recall to the national panel in the months and years ahead.

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Marty Moore

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