Trip to Kingspan made move to Belfast a no-brainer, insists Ulster signing Faddes
Ulster have confirmed highly-rated Kiwi Matt Faddes will join the province next season with the utility back saying a past trip to Belfast helped him decide upon the move.
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A switch first reported in the Belfast Telegraph back in January, the 27-year-old first played at Kingspan Stadium as part of a Barbarians side who beat Fiji in 2016, with Faddes himself scoring a try.
"Both Georgie (his partner) and I are looking forward to the experience of living and working in a new environment and the challenge that will provide," said the man who has scored 19 tries in 43 Super Rugby appearances for the Highlanders.
"It's exciting to consider the next chapter of my rugby career. When I visited in 2016, I was struck by the family, community feel to the club."
With, at the very least, Jacob Stockdale set to play more for Ireland than Ulster in a World Cup year next season, Faddes' versatility should prove a valuable asset to the province.
Veteran centre Darren Cave is set to retire once this season ends and, along with Will Addison and Louis Ludik, head coach Dan McFarland will be able to move plenty of players around in his back-line.
"Matt is a quality player who will bring a lot of experience, skill and creativity to our backline," said McFarland.
"He's quick and has shown throughout his career the ability to beat defenders with his footwork and acceleration. His versatility will also be very important for us, meaning he is able to play various positions alongside our talented young backs.
"Matt is excited about moving over to Ireland and with his undoubted ability and strong work ethic, I'm sure he'll add a significant amount to our squad."
Faddes is one of five new signings due at Kingspan Stadium next season.
While Leinster's 2017 Lion Jack McGrath is the headline addition, he will be joined by Wallaby lock Sam Carter, former Irish under-20 out-half Bill Johnston, Worcester's Gareth Milasinovich and now Faddes.
"We feel that this year's recruitment process has been very productive and it's encouraging that we are able to continue to attract players of this calibre to Ulster," added McFarland.
"The new arrivals will bolster our squad depth for next season and increase competition for places.
"This, coupled with the experience gained by so many of our young players this season, bodes well for us moving forward."