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Ulster to sign Irish qualified centre Will Addison this summer as Sale Sharks confirm move

By Gareth Hanna

Sale Sharks have announced that club captain Will Addison will join Ulster this summer.

The 25-year-old centre, according to the Sale website, has agreed a move to the province in order to increase his chances of forging an international career.

The Cumbria-born back, who previously played for England U20s, is qualified to represent Ireland through his mother.

Addison, who can also play at full-back or wing, made his Sale Sharks debut in 2011 and has amassed over 100 appearances for the club. He will bolster Ulster's kicking options, having racked up over 150 points for his current side.

Ulster's other options at centre are Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey and Darren Cave with Stuart Olding's future as yet unknown after he was cleared of a rape charge earlier this week.

Commenting on his impending move to Ulster, Addison said: "To be honest, it was a really difficult decision to leave Sale after almost a decade playing in their colours. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, especially the last 12 months while I’ve been Club Captain.

"However, it’s a short career and this represents a great opportunity for me to develop as a player and to experience a new environment. I do have ambitions to play at international level but for me the immediate priority is to work hard and enjoy my rugby at Ulster.

"It’s a proud club with lots of history, but also one with exciting plans in place for the future. Having spoken with Bryn (Cunningham), it’s clear that Ulster are starting with a clean slate from next season and it sounds like the ideal time to come on board.

"Bryn’s passion for Ulster is evident and that really rings true with me, having spent so much of my career at one club. My mum is from Enniskillen and I think Ulster will be a great fit.

"Another factor in my decision was that I played with Dwayne Peel (Ulster’s Assistant Coach) when he was at Sale and he’s a good friend of mine, so I’m looking forward to working with him again.

"I’ve heard a lot about the Ulster supporters and, for me, Kingspan Stadium is one of the best stadiums in Europe, so playing there on a regular basis is a very exciting proposition."

Ulster’s Operations Director Bryn Cunningham said it was an exciting signing.

"Will is a really exciting capture for us. He has tremendous leadership qualities and is very well respected within the Aviva Premiership. To earn the role of Club Captain at such a young age speaks volumes for his character, while his ability to play in a number of positions across the backline is also a major bonus for us," he said.

"Will clearly has the desire and potential to play international rugby and that was undoubtedly a key driver in his decision-making process. It’s a move that has been welcomed by Joe Schmidt and we look forward to seeing how he progresses in the coming seasons.

"We will have some big changes in our squad composition for next season with a number of players moving on and with the likes of Will, Jordi (Murphy) and Marty (Moore) coming in.

"The focus for us over the next few seasons will be improving the competitiveness of the squad by demanding more from senior players and giving opportunities to our talented crop of Academy players, while good recruitment will also be critical."

"It has been a pleasure to work with Will. He has captained the side this season and the enthusiasm and desire he brings will be missed," said Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Steve Diamond. "We all wish him well in his desire to play international rugby."

Ulster have already confirmed moves for Leinster-born pair Marty Moore and Jordi Murphy this summer. Tight-head prop Moore will arrive at Kingspan Stadium after a two-year stint with Wasps while back-row Murphy has ended a seven year career with his home county to move north.

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