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Ulster set to sign Munster prospect Bill Johnston ahead of 2019/20 season

Munster fly-half Bill Johnston is set to join Ulster next season (INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)
Munster fly-half Bill Johnston is set to join Ulster next season (INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Ulster are set to swing a major coup by bringing in highly-rated Munster fly-half Bill Johnston ahead of the new season.

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The 22-year-old, who is very well thought of among his peers in Munster, will join the province on a multi-year deal next season from their interprovincial rivals.

Having seen his development hindered due to some unfortunately timed injuries, Johnston has barely had a look in with the southern province due to the logjam at 10.

With Joey Carbery making the move to Munster from Leinster last season to head up the stocks, and Tyler Bleyendaal and JJ Hanrahan entrenched as back-ups, opportunities were limited for Johnston.

As such, Ulster have offered him a route out of Thomond Park, likely with the promise of a better chance of getting minutes at Kingspan Stadium.

Johnston would compete with Billy Burns for the starter's jersey in Belfast, with the ever-impressing Michael Lowry also an option at 10, although he has been grabbing headlines at full-back.

Clonmel man Johnston is a former Ireland Under-20s international and was tipped for big things after impressing for Rockwell at schools level in the Munster Senior Cup.

However, two dislocated shoulders and a serious ankle injury capped his involvements with Munster to just 12 appearances over the course of three seasons.

Now he will hope a change of scenery will see him shake off those persistent injuries and get some consistent game-time under his belt, with the expectation being he has enough talent to compete with Burns.

Johnston would be the latest player to make the switch from one province to another, following the likes of Eric O'Sullivan, Marty Moore, Jordi Murphy and John Cooney.

Meanwhile, the arrival of Johnston seems to spell the end of Johnny McPhillips' time with Ulster as the fly-half's contract expires at the end of the campaign.

McPhillips looked to have done enough to compete for starts this season after a strong finish to the 2017/18 campaign, however found himself on the outside looking in under Dan McFarland.

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