Ulster confirm sixth new signing as David O'Connor joins brother Alan in squad
Ulster Rugby have confirmed their sixth signing of the summer, with Alan O'Connor's younger brother David joining Dan McFarland's panel.
The head coach has named a 44-strong senior squad ahead of the new season, with lock David named as the sixth summer recruit after Jack McGrath, Sam Carter, Matt Faddes, Gareth Milasinovich and Bill Johnston.
O'Connor could join his brother Alan in Ulster's second row, taking Ian Nagle's place in the panel after his fellow Leinster joined Zebre.
He most recently helped Lansdowne to a third-placed finish in the All Ireland League Division 1A last season.
The 6'4 player further increases the number of Leinster natives in the Ulster panel and will be no stranger to Nick Timoney.
Timoney was O'Connor's captain when the pair helped Blackrock to the Leinster Schools' title in 2014.
O'Connor was signed up to Leinster's Academy in 2015, staying for two years before he was released 'to pursue other opportunities'.
The O'Connors join Zack and Kyle McCall as well as Marcus and Matty Rea as pairs of brothers in the Ulster senior panel.
Of McFarland's 44 man squad, 37 are fully contracted players with seven development players included. As many as 41 are Irish qualified while 27 have come through Ulster's development pathway.
Nine players have progressed from Academy to upgraded contracts in the last year.
The panel is due to begin pre-season training on Monday, July 1.
“Having a large number of indigenous young players in the squad is incredibly important for the future of Ulster Rugby," said McFarland.
"Kieran Campbell and his staff in the Academy deserve a lot of credit for their work in bringing through the next generation of talent to the senior squad, which was so evident last season. Our clubs and schools also play a huge part in the development pathway of our young players, providing the basis for crucial early technical and motivational growth.
“It is important that we retain the best of our home-grown talent, many of whom receive attractive offers from other clubs, and we have managed to do that once again with some key re-signings.
“Combined with this core group of Ulster men is the vital input of our overseas players. Having players like Marcell Coetzee in the group has delivered tangible benefits both on and off the field, and I’m confident that Sam Carter and Matt Faddes will also have big impacts.
“We will also welcome the experience and quality of Jack McGrath, and the potential of Gareth Milasinovich, Bill Johnston and David O’Connor into the squad, and I’m looking forward to working with them all.
“The squad is developing nicely. We need to have quality throughout the squad; sometimes that’s down to recruitment, a lot of the time it’s down to bringing the young guys through. Getting a healthy mixture of the two is really important.”
Ulster Rugby 2019/20 squad
(Players developed through the Abbey Insurance Academy or Ulster club system are marked with *)
Belfast Telegraph Digital