Ulster's deal for Australian lock Sam Carter is signed and sealed
Ulster have swooped to sign Wallaby lock Sam Carter on a multi-year deal, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
The 29-year-old will join the province in time for next season after completing a final campaign in Super Rugby.
Carter has won 14 caps for Australia after making his debut against France in 2014.
But his most recent caps came back in 2017 with national head coach Michael Cheika favouring an array of other locks as the World Cup nears.
As such, he has been linked with a move abroad in his homeland of late but a move to Kingspan Stadium is now signed and sealed as Ulster Rugby have confirmed the story that appeared in today's Belfast Telegraph.
“I look forward to joining Ulster later in the year and I’m excited by the prospect of playing with the team at Kingspan Stadium," Carter said. "The opportunity to compete within the Northern Hemisphere tournaments represents a new challenge for me and is something I feel ready for.”
He will become the third Brumbies player to make the switch in as many seasons, following in the footsteps of Christian Leali'ifano and Henry Speight who both spent short spells with Ulster, who are next in action tomorrow fortnight at Ospreys in the Guinness PRO14.
“We’re really happy that Sam has chosen to come to Ulster Rugby and we look forward to welcoming him to the club and the Province," said head coach Dan McFarland. "In addition to his undoubted quality on the field, Sam is renowned for his leadership, having shared the captaincy of the Brumbies over the past couple of seasons.
“Sam has an excellent work ethic and a strong set piece game, where he has led one of Super Rugby’s top lineouts over the past five years. He will add another level of experience and leadership to our forward pack and will significantly enhance competition for places within our squad.”
At 6'7'', Carter will provide a significant boost to Ulster's engine room, especially with Iain Henderson set to miss a significant chunk of the season due to the upcoming World Cup.
Ulster have struggled for senior locks throughout Dan McFarland's first season in Belfast and brought in Ian Nagle as a loan signing at a time when resources were stretched particularly thin and large loads were placed on Kieran Treadwell and Alan O'Connor.
Carter, whose father David also represented the Wallabies, will add a wealth of experience having made over 100 appearances for the Brumbies in addition to his Test caps, while his lineout nous will be welcome too.
His addition is expected to be alongside that of fellow Super Rugby man Matt Faddes, the Highlanders back who is also believed to be close to signing on the dotted line at Ulster.
Meanwhile, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has revealed that he suspects skipper Rory Best considered giving up the Ireland captaincy a year ago.
Prior to the game that became famous for Johnny Sexton's late drop goal, Ireland's 2018 Six Nations opener was dominated by controversy over the appearance of Best days before at the trial of then team-mates Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.
Jackson and Olding were both acquitted of raping the same woman by a Belfast court in March of last year.
And, in a BBC documentary aired last night about Best's life, Schmidt revealed how the furore took its toll on Best.
"It was a tough start to the Six Nations for Rory, on and off the pitch, and it showed a fair bit of character from him to work his way through that when he probably considered stepping away from the game, stepping away from the captaincy completely," said the Kiwi.
"With the encouragement of team-mates behind him he did a super job.
"He stepped up and showed a strength of character that's hard to find when you're under the spotlight, the microscope that he was. He definitely delivered."
In the same programme, Best added that the dramatic first leg of last year's Grand Slam was one of the games from which he took the least enjoyment.
"That France game is probably one of the victories that I've enjoyed the least with Ireland," he said.
"I felt there was so much pressure on me ahead of that game."