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Why Declan Moore was an ‘obvious signing’ for Ulster Rugby after Bradley Roberts teed up switch to Dragons

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Fitting in: Declan Moore celebrates his try against Connacht. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Fitting in: Declan Moore celebrates his try against Connacht. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Fitting in: Declan Moore celebrates his try against Connacht. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

He will be on the books officially next season but if two weeks ago offered any insight into how Declan Moore might fare when a permanent Ulster squad member, then he should make the grade.

Currently on loan from Munster, the 25-year-old hooker put in a full 80-minute shift for Ulster against Connacht after finding out at pretty short notice — thanks to John Andrew’s late withdrawal — that he was in the starting side and not warming the bench.

Not only that but the New Zealand-born yet Australia-raised player, who is Irish-qualified through his grandparents — his paternal grandfather hailed from Carrickfergus — managed to score a try off the back of a driving maul.

So far, Dan McFarland has been impressed with what he has seen and Brad Roberts’ departure to the Dragons — who Ulster face on Sunday at Rodney Parade — at season’s end, coupled with injury issues, have brought Moore into Ulster’s ambit.

Surplus at Munster, this looks like his big chance to make it in the pro game.

“We were aware he had arrived from Australia, that he was Irish-qualified and that he was down in Munster,” McFarland explained.

“He was trying to get an opportunity there, but they have a number of good hookers.

“I watched his footage and Roddy (Grant, Ulster forwards coach) watched his footage, from when he (Moore) was playing in Australia.”

Having been sent up to Ulster prior to Christmas, due to the province’s lack of fit hookers, before returning south in the New Year, Moore then got the call to head back up north thanks, again, to the lack of players available to pack down in the middle of the front-row.

Though it is unclear how much time he will be north of the border before this campaign closes out, with Munster presumably still having first call on their still loaned-out player, Ulster and Moore look to be a pretty good fit.

Being thrown in at the deep end, and in an inter-provincial too, will have done much for a player with, so far, limited exposure to the pro game.

Prior to the Connacht clash, Moore had been unused during a stint with Melbourne Rebels and had only acquired 10 minutes off the bench for Munster — he joined them last summer — in their pre-Christmas European meeting with Wasps.

“There is lots to work on because he hasn’t played much at senior level in terms of his set-piece,” McFarland also stated.

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“He is extremely dynamic, he moves well around the park and he is very competent in his fundamentals and it seemed like an obvious signing with Bradley moving on.”

Hooker is one of those positions that often gets overlooked in terms of the skills-set required to fulfil the role.

For Moore, before Connacht, it was all about taking a crash course in learning Ulster’s drills but with the extra pressure of match day surrounding the cramming required.

Grant said: “We put a premium on our drills, and that was the challenge coming in and the margin for error is so small.

“There was a lot to take in, team plays too, and he did really well. We’re pleased and hopefully we can get a lot more out of him.”

Moore looks ready for it all.


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