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Ulster fight off interest in Peel as assistants sign new deals and coach joins from Edinburgh


Making a point: Assistant Dwayne Peel and head coach Dan McFarland call the shots
Making a point: Assistant Dwayne Peel and head coach Dan McFarland call the shots
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster have continued to make preparations for beyond this campaign with the confirmation of their coaching ticket for the next two seasons.

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Ulster have now confirmed this morning's Belfast Telegraph story that Dan McFarland's assistants Dwayne Peel and Dan Soper have both signed extensions to remain with the province beyond the end of the current campaign.

Former Lions scrum-half Peel has been Ulster's backs coach since the summer of 2017, recruited by then-Director of Rugby Les Kiss along with Jono Gibbes, but his current deal was due to expire in June.

There had been rumours of interest coming from his native Wales, where multiple coaching vacancies remain open for next season, while he was also known to teams in England having served in a similar position at Sale to start his coaching career.

Skills coach Soper has also extended his deal with the province. The Kiwi native, who has been in Northern Ireland for two decades, was brought into the set-up last summer having excelled with Ballyclare High, RBAI and Banbridge RFC as a coach over the past few seasons.

Defence coach Jared Payne remains in situ having signed a long-term deal upon his retirement from playing while it has now been confirmed that Edinburgh's forwards coach Roddy Grant is coming to Belfast to join the group this summer, with scrum coach Aaron Dundon thought to be departing.

Former Leinster hooker Dundon joined Ulster from Grenoble two summers ago, originally to work under Kiss.

His recent work with the Ulster set-piece has drawn praise from players but his area of expertise is similar to that of McFarland, who acted as a forwards coach for Connacht, Glasgow and Scotland before arriving at Kingspan Stadium.

It is thought that the ticket's contracts are now synced to run concurrently until 2021.

Last week it was revealed in this newspaper that Highlanders utility back Matt Faddes is close to sealing a switch to Ulster with more incomings expected during the Six Nations window.

Other areas of outstanding business ahead of the next season include the future of Ireland skipper Rory Best and the expiring contract of outstanding Springbok back-rower Marcell Coetzee.

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