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Ulster quartet named in PRO14's Team of the Year so far

 

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John Cooney

John Cooney

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

John Cooney

Ulster's excellent start to the Guinness PRO14 campaign prior to its suspension has been reflected in the league's Team of the Season so far.

Dan McFarland's side lost just four of their 12 games prior to the league going on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, sitting second in Conference A and in a strong position to reach the play-offs again.

As a result, four of Ulster's players have been included in the PRO14's team - selected using stats from Opta - which is joint most along with Conference B leaders Edinburgh. European Player of the Year nominees John Cooney (scrum-half) and Marcell Coetzee (No.8) are, unsurprisingly, both included, and they are joined by team-mates Robert Baloucoune (wing) and Tom O'Toole (tight-head) in the side.

Cooney has kicked 94 points in the league this season - good for second most in the PRO14 - and has an 89% success rate from the tee, while rampaging No.8 Coetzee has brushed off injury concerns to turn in a dominant campaign in which he has amassed 215 metres in 114 carries, as well as ranking fifth in turnovers with nine successes.

As for Baloucoune and O'Toole, this accolade comes after both earned their first Irish call-ups for the Six Nations following their displays at Kingspan Stadium.

Baloucoune has been one of the best wingers in the competition since returning from injury, showing an eye for the line by running in five tries in six games. At just 21, O'Toole has shown skill beyond his years, improving his scrummaging under McFarland while still showing his robustness with ball in hand, carrying for 95 metres in 65 carries while tackling at a 98% rate.

PRO14 TEAM OF THE SEASON SO FAR: H Amos (Cardiff); R Baloucoune (Ulster), N Grigg (Glasgow), M Scott (Edinburgh), D Kearney (Leinster); P Horne (Glasgow), J Cooney (Ulster); P Dooley (Leinster), S Otten (Ospreys), T O'Toole (Ulster); L Carmichael, G Gilchrist; M Bradbury (Edinburgh), W Connors (Leinster), M Coetzee (Ulster).

Belfast Telegraph