Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby Ulster

Poll: Who should be the number eight in Ulster Rugby's team of the decade?

The contenders for the number eight position in our Ulster Rugby team of the decade
The contenders for the number eight position in our Ulster Rugby team of the decade

It's time to finish off the pack in our Ulster Rugby team of the decade. So who's your number eight?

Rugby round up Newsletter

Game previews, plus expert insights and exclusive commentary from the Belfast Telegraph sports team.

Voting will close at 12 noon on Thursday (December 19) so make sure you have your say on all positions before then: Loosehead prop - Hooker - Tighthead prop - Locks - Blindside flanker - Openside flanker - Scrum-half - Fly-half - Wingers - Inside centre - Outside centre - Full-back

1. Pedrie Wannenburg

2016-08-06_new_23479859_I4.JPG
Pedrie Wannenburg in action for Ulster

Ulster's original intention had been to sign Xavier Rush to fill the void at the base of their scrum in the summer of 2010 but the 32-year-old former All Black walked away from a two-year deal to remain with Cardiff Blues.

The province's back-up plan didn't work out too badly. Instead Springbok Pedrie Wannenburg arrived from the Bulls. Landing in Belfast with 20 Springbok caps to his name, the powerful carrier had a reputation for versatility having once appeared in 100 consecutive Super Rugby games for the Bulls.

True to form, in his first year he appeared in 29 of 30 games for Ulster and racked up more minutes than any other player. He wasn't so fortunate with injuries in his second season but still helped the side to the Heineken Cup final. Left for Castres and had spells at Oyonnax and in America before retiring.

2. Nick Williams

07912dk07114jpg_2.jpg
Nick Williams

The successor to Pedrie Wannenburg did not arrive with quite such prior success on his CV. Nick Williams signed up for Ulster after a few underwhelming seasons at Munster and what was then Aironi.

In Belfast though, he was a player reborn. Clearly from strong rugby stock - his brother, Tim Nanai Williams is a Samoan international while cousin Sonny Bill Williams only finished up with the All Blacks after the World Cup - his first season with his second province saw him named Pro12 Player of the Year as well as the corresponding award from IRUPA.

A bulldozing presence with ball in hand, his propensity for an eye-catching offload saw him become a firm favourite with the fans. Reluctant to leave Ulster, he has proven equally popular with Cardiff Blues, still going strong at the age of 36.

3. Marcell Coetzee

2019-10-30_spo_54517726_I2.png
Marcell Coetzee
 

Nick Williams departure from Ulster was essentially forced due to a lack of available NIQ spots and the arrival of Marcell Coetzee.

Unfortunately for both the province and their newest Springbok, disaster struck before his arrival at Kingspan Stadium. An injured knee in the April of his last season with the Sharks proved to be a torn ACL and sparked a two-year injury nightmare.

Managing only five games through his first two seasons, he battled his way back to prove himself as one of the best players plying their trade in Ireland last season, doing enough to earn a Springbok recall. Unfortunate not to be a part of the winning World Cup squad after a short-term ankle injury sustained against Argentina in the summer, Coetzee has carried his form into this season where he has been a stand-out for Dan McFarland's men in both the PRO14 and Champions Cup.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph