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Ulster trio staying at Kingspan as senior and Academy squad lists released for 20/21 season


Jordi Murphy

Ulster have confirmed that three key men will still be a part of their squad whenever rugby returns to the Kingspan Stadium.

Without a game since February 22 after the outbreak of the coronavirus, those on expiring deals at the province would have been out of contract by the time Dan McFarland's men next see the field.

But Jordi Murphy, Will Addison and Louis Ludik will all be returning next season, whenever that may be.

Ulster's players were placed on the government's furlough scheme at the beginning of April and IRFU had mooted a return to training on May 18 but that date will now not come to pass. Instead they will offer a revised plan for resuming action in accordance with government guidelines at the beginning of next month.

There remains hope from PRO14 organisers that the 2019/20 campaign could be completed, potentially with two rounds of fixtures to finish a curtailed regular season before launching into the play-offs.

With so many moving parts - especially when it comes to a league that involves travel between South Africa, Italy, Scotland, Wales and Ireland north and south - any plans remain tentative until the global picture becomes clearer.

McFarland though is optimistic that his squad is taking shape for whenever rugby can safely restart.

“Our desire to build on the successes of this season to-date is evidenced in our strong investment in talent from the current squad," said the coach who has also added Ian Madigan and Alby Matthewson to his panel for next season. "Although it’s an uncertain time for rugby, and all sport, I am confident our selection will stand us in good stead for when we are able to safely start the new season.

“Once again, the chosen line-up of players shines a light on the indigenous talent nurtured through the Academy by Kieran Campbell and his staff – and the role which it, along with the province’s clubs and schools, continues to play in securing the future of Ulster Rugby.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the players who are moving on from the squad. This includes Clive Ross, who earned 73 caps since joining the province on a development contract in 2014, along with 21-capped Angus Kernohan, and Zack McCall.

“Looking to the future, we look forward to welcoming the new additions to the squad, who are set to bring their own unique skills and talent, as we move towards a time when the 2020/21 season can kick-off.”

Murphy and Addison have both signed two-year deals while the make-up of next year's Academy crop has been confirmed too.

After impressing for the Irish under-20s during the shortened Six Nations, both Lewis Finlay and Ethan McIlroy have been brought into the set-up from the sub-academy, while 6' 7'' lock Cormac Izuchukwu comes in from the sevens set-up.

As previously reported by the Belfast Telegraph, Wallace High trio Ben Carson, Reuben Crothers, Nathan Doak and Dalriada hooker James McCormick join from school while Graham Curtis, Matthew Dalton, Joe Dunleavy, Aaron Hall, Iwan Hughes, Jack Reagan, and Matthew Agnew are all no longer listed in the squad.

Ulster senior squad 20/21

Will Addison, John Andrew, Robert Baloucoune, Billy Burns, Sam Carter, Marcell Coetzee, John Cooney, Angus Curtis, Matt Faddes, Craig Gilroy, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, James Hume, Bill Johnston, Greg Jones, Ross Kane, Michael Lowry, Louis Ludik, Rob Lyttle, Ian Madigan, Luke Marshall, Alby Mathewson, Adam McBurney, Kyle McCall, Stuart McCloskey, Jack McGrath, Gareth Milasinovic, Marty Moore, Stewart Moore, Jordi Murphy, Alan O’Connor, David O’Connor, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Marcus Rea, Matty Rea, Sean Reidy, David Shanahan, Jonny Stewart, Jacob Stockdale, Nick Timoney, Kieran Treadwell, Andrew Warwick

Abbey Insurance Ulster Rugby Academy squad 20/21

Azur Allison, Ben Carson, Reuben Crothers, Nathan Doak, Lewis Finlay, Bruce Houston, Hayden Hyde, Cormac Izuchukwu, Dave McCann, James McCormick, Ethan McIlroy, Conor Rankin, Callum Reid, Aaron Sexton, Tom Stewart

Belfast Telegraph