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Ulster Rugby 2017-2018 Part 2

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Post by clivemcl Sat 02 Jun 2018, 2:14 am

First topic message reminder :

Carberry is 22, McPhillips is 21. Is this talk about sticking with McPhillips and hoping he turns out to be a gem maybe a tad naive? Carberry at a year older is being talked about as though he was the second coming and all this despite Sexton and Byrne and a whole backline of stellar players potentially blocking him. By contrast, it's almost as if we only know the name of McPhillips because we had no choice. A year ago the thinking was Jackson and Nelson. We then were saying Cooney can play 10 a bit. Then we signed Lealifano. Surely if McPhillips was the hot prospect, the coaches would have featured him more before Lealifano left.
In fact during Leanlifano's time here wasn't Nelson the preferred bench 10, and indeed started 3 games at 10 before Christmas, but then got injured?

Not meaning to be super negative, I hope I'm wrong. Cooney is a perfect example of a player suddenly shining from nowhere. I guess Ulster coaches know better than me if he's a real prospect worth thrusting into the limelight or not.


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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 05 Jul 2018, 9:38 am

With respect to planning for the future we only have the following with contracts beyond summer 2019

2021
Herring, Henderson, Treadwell, Marshall

2020
Moore, Andrew, Reidy, Murphy, Addison, Stockdale, Ludik

A lot of contracts to be sorted out this coming year - at least, if its Constable as CEO, with him and Cunningham we will people on board who know what they are doing

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Post by The Great Aukster Thu 05 Jul 2018, 3:21 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:Squad for next year, (unless we sign some IQ players in the interim)

TH          Herbst, Moore, Ah You, Kane
Hooker    Best, Herring, Andrew, McBurney
LH          Warwick, McCall, vanDeMerwe, O'Hagan
Lock       Henderson, O’Connor, Treadwell, Browne, Dalton
Backrow  Murphy, Coetzee, Reidy, Timoney, Deysel, Rea, Ross, Henry, Jones, Hall, Montgomery
SH          Cooney, Shanahan, Stewart
FH          McPhillips
Centre    Marshall, McCloskey, Addison, Cave
Backs     Stockdale, Gilroy, Ludik, Lyttle, Nelson, Owens, Busby

Apparently of the 43 above 28 on full contracts and 15 on development contracts
Also there are 17 Academy contracts which I reckon are probably 17 of the following 19 (will have to find out who has been dropped)

O'Toole, Cooper
Clarke
Reid
Regan, McCusker, Thompson
Dunleavy, Agnew, Rea jnr
O'Donnell, Curtis jnr
Lowry, Curtis snr
Hume, Butler
Hughes, Finnegan, Kernohan

Thanks for posting that Geoff.

Out of those 62 players there are only 9 who (if fit) might get mentioned in an Ireland selectors' meeting :- Best, Herring, Henderson, Murphy, Cooney, Marshall, McCloskey, Stockdale and Gilroy. More worryingly outside of those and circumstances permitting, only Coetzee and Moore would have the potential class to be considered in any Test selection meeting. Eleven potential test quality players out of sixty two is a very low base to be starting from. Young players coming in to the side have very little competition to hold down their place, and that won't spur them to face the pain of improvement. If Will Addison or Nick Timoney really want to push for an Ireland shirt, where are they more likely to learn what it takes - secure of their place at Ulster in a mediocre team or fighting for a bench spot at Leinster watching their rivals from close hand? It is no surprise that Ulster find it hard to attract IQ players with serious ambition.

Ulster simply aren't producing or recruiting enough quality to cope with retirements and natural wastage, never mind improve the team. Do the IRFU seriously think that restricting Ulster's NIE recruitment further will suddenly increase the supply of quality players and improve the team in a season or two? Far more likely is that the IRFU realise Ulster will attract the nearly men from Munster and Leinster with any emerging stars moving in the opposite direction. A few of those nearly men might end up with an indian summer in their careers like Cooney (and hopefully Moore). Once that model becomes established the IRFU might loosen the purse strings a tad so that the two tier provincial system isn't too overt.

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Post by clivemcl Thu 05 Jul 2018, 3:42 pm

Does a youngster improve more in a team with a few star signings with the pressure of expecting to reach Europe knock outs and league playoffs? Or in a team with lots of his youngster mates where the Director has publicly stated we won't be competitive for a few seasons so there's little expectation??? Headscratch

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Post by Kingshu Thu 05 Jul 2018, 4:36 pm

I do not agree with all of that Aukster
Connacht won the league with a young squad, you could argue that the players there didn't really have much competition for places yet they were able to push on.
I agree the squad should never have been allowed together as weak as it has, I do hope that this year we get a number of short term NIQ's, don't have to be great players but good ones like Ludik, Taute etc, even just for between super rugby seasons.

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Post by Standulstermen Thu 05 Jul 2018, 5:33 pm

clivemcl wrote:Does a youngster improve more in a team with a few star signings with the pressure of expecting to reach Europe knock outs and league playoffs? Or in a team with lots of his youngster mates where the Director has publicly stated we won't be competitive for a few seasons so there's little expectation???  Headscratch

imo a youngster improves in a team with experience alongside him (doesnt have to be big money) and not in a team filled with his peers who are learning on the job. Theres a balance to be struck and sadly Ulster seem to be veering from one extreme to another. That said if we have a miraculous season regarding injuries theres no reason we cant do reasonably. I agree with Geoff that the IRFU have valid grounds for tightening the purse strings but I agree with Aukster that they are going about things in too strong a manner.

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Post by marty2086 Fri 06 Jul 2018, 9:29 am

I think you are all generalising a bit too much, learning is an individual thing. Some people are naturals and will just pick things up as they go but with everyone it will come down to the environment. If a learning culture exists in an organisation then I think they will learn. Connacht, Scarlets and Glasgow didn't have squads filled with top names that had been there and done it but they created cultures that lifted them to success and young players learned and developed within those cultures, some by getting game time and others by seeing that opportunity existed and knowing if they put the work in and were good enough they would get their chance. Ulster need to do more than just say, heres a starting spot, they have to create the right culture behind that and it's been lacking for a long time

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 06 Jul 2018, 9:46 am

Agree with that Marty - learning is most definitely an individual thing.

Regarding culture that is what is most encouraging to me - the whole place seems to have been transformed in the last 6 months or so.

For the first time since the 2012 Final squad we have a rugby set up that seems united, resourceful and determined.

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Post by marty2086 Fri 06 Jul 2018, 12:48 pm

Is there anything in particular that has brought about the change geoff?

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 06 Jul 2018, 2:27 pm

I put it down to a number of reasons coalescing

1 - Changes in personnel. Neither Kiss or Logan were respected by the rugby fraternity at Ulster. Kiss at least was liked as a person, Logan was despised
2 - Payne coming in as defence coach. Done well and probably holds the title of most respected person at Ulster. People want to play for him
3 - The last few games with Gibbes, Payne, Peel in charge showed what we could do if we were well coached and focused at the same time. Self belief took a big step forward in the last couple of months
4 - The trial. One because everyone is just glad it is behind us. Most were appalled at lack of support given to the players by the Ulster hierarchy (see Logan - despised above) but paradoxically it has help circle the wagons an engendered a sense of us against the world.
5 - In a funny way the the departure of Bowe, Trimble, Marshall, Diack, Black has helped. Don't get me wrong all liked by the wider playing staff but in a sense the youngster were a bit in awe and afraid to speak up, now the balance is most definitely on the more youthful/newer player side I think that players are being more honest with each other.

Net effect is I see a more united squad than I have seen for some time

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Post by marty2086 Fri 06 Jul 2018, 3:34 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
2 - Payne coming in as defence coach. Done well and probably holds the title of most respected person at Ulster. People want to play for him

A future head coach for Ulster?


geoff999rugby wrote:5 - In a funny way the the departure of Bowe, Trimble, Marshall, Diack, Black has helped. Don't get me wrong all liked by the wider playing staff but in a sense the youngster were a bit in awe and afraid to speak up, now the balance is most definitely on the more youthful/newer player side I think that players are being more honest with each other.

That's a shame but that comes back to poor management, it did seem at times senior pros were a protected species and the young guys were fighting to get inside

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Post by The Great Aukster Sat 07 Jul 2018, 11:05 am

rodders wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:
I do not know enough about Leinster schools as to why their set up works and ours doesn't

As I understand the difference is as fee paying schools they have much better resources in terms of facilities and coaching compared to the Grammar school we have here.

Therefore this is not a system we can copy.

The dual pathway system simply does not work. The IRFU have tried to close the gap in standards between the School and clubs for years and it has not worked.

Only when the the best players are playing underage for the clubs and not their school teams will the system be fit for purpose but right now the tail is wagging the dog.

Some schools (the ones regularly reaching the latter stages of the USC) are very well resourced with professional coaching from the likes of McLaughlin, Soper and Faloon earning near 6 figure sums, and having full time strength and conditioning support. When McLaughlin was solely coaching RBAI, he developed teams that were very mobile, fast recycling and strong defensively. This exploited the underage law changes (designed for safety), so producing 'big lumps' was the last thing he wanted to do as they are not effective. The ultimate goal would have been to have 15 Centres on the pitch as that type of game is more akin to League than Union.

It is understandable that the schools having invested so much in their players would want exclusive rights to their charges. However I agree that the schoolboys with no exposure to the full adult game hinders their transition post school. The dual pathway does not work but it is not only the School route that is failing, the Club pathway is also flawed. Here's an article from 2004 where the Clubs block change. https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/clubs-reject-irfu-plan-1.1307005 and this blinkered thinking shows that they are blind to the big picture.

If the IRFU are interested in improvement they are the ones that need to broker the change. Sharing coaches would be one way to unite Schools and Clubs. While schools should have first call on a player, if their season is over or players aren't in their first XV, then the schoolboys should be available for club games. The smaller schools would get access to better coaching and the Clubs would establish links to future members.

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Post by Don Alfonso Sat 07 Jul 2018, 7:11 pm

Have to say, this last page is the most insightful, nuanced and reasonable discussion of Ulster across any forum I regularly read. Pleasure to hear people's informed, adult, non-hysterical thoughts.

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Post by Redman Mon 09 Jul 2018, 10:20 am

Don Alfonso wrote:Have to say, this last page is the most insightful, nuanced and reasonable discussion of Ulster across any forum I regularly read. Pleasure to hear people's informed, adult, non-hysterical thoughts.

Killed the conversation dead there Don

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Post by marty2086 Mon 09 Jul 2018, 11:04 am

The Great Aukster wrote:
If the IRFU are interested in improvement they are the ones that need to broker the change. Sharing coaches would be one way to unite Schools and Clubs. While schools should have first call on a player, if their season is over or players aren't in their first XV, then the schoolboys should be available for club games. The smaller schools would get access to better coaching and the Clubs would establish links to future members.

Two of the coaches you mention coach, or did in Sopers case, both club and schools teams. Soper at Banbridge and RBAI and Faloon at City of Armagh and Royal School.

Would there even be an argument to be made for condensing the time frame for the Schools Cup? Have it played before Christmas and free up the players to play club rugby later in the year?

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Post by marty2086 Mon 09 Jul 2018, 5:04 pm

Ulster have confirmed Billy Burns has signed on a two year deal

Not sure how I feel about this, he's a decent 10 with experience and adds depth but not does he displace McPhillips?

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Post by JmD Mon 09 Jul 2018, 5:09 pm

We've literally had one outhalf under contract. I have no idea how good Burns is, but what did you want them to do? Intentionally sign someone garbage? We need bodies to fill the jerseys at this stage. McPhillips will get plenty of gametime throughout the season.

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Post by Standulstermen Mon 09 Jul 2018, 5:11 pm

Its the experience is would query Marty as he is only 24. Thats a year older than McPhillips. Saw somewhere though he could cover 15 although Ulster dont mention it. That said its depth and he seems to have amassed some decent first team gametime actually when looking at it.

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Post by marty2086 Mon 09 Jul 2018, 5:16 pm

JmD wrote:We've literally had one outhalf under contract. I have no idea how good Burns is, but what did you want them to do? Intentionally sign someone garbage? We need bodies to fill the jerseys at this stage. McPhillips will get plenty of gametime throughout the season.

Actually we have 3...well 4 now

I'm saying is he worth signing given that we need to develop players long term, I like Burns he's a good player but can see McPhillips surpassing him with game time. I haven't seen enough of Lowry to comment but he is said to be an even better prospect so we have signed someone who could potentially stunt the development of others

Burns could turn out to be a great signing but could also be one we are left frustrated by because a young prospect couldn't get an opportunity to get experience because he didn't have the experience

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Post by marty2086 Mon 09 Jul 2018, 5:20 pm

Standulstermen wrote:Its the experience is would query Marty as he is only 24. Thats a year older than McPhillips. Saw somewhere though he could cover 15 although Ulster dont mention it. That said its depth and he seems to have amassed some decent first team gametime actually when looking at it.

He's over 100 games for Gloucester, made his debut at 17, won a Challenge Cup and he started out at 15 there

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Post by Standulstermen Mon 09 Jul 2018, 5:31 pm

Yep, im liking it. I still think we need more but im not expecting anything. Competition is good and I hope he and McPhillips could drive each other on

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Post by Kingshu Mon 09 Jul 2018, 5:54 pm

101 caps for Glouceter, only 24, appears is Irish qualified. Why not?

Has experience and can play full back.

To be honest I would rather him than Keatley, as much as I actually do like Keatley there is something about eating Munster hand me downs I don't like.

Hopefully some of our prem friends can fill us in if he is good?
Is he better than Keatley or Madigan?
Appears be was worried for his place with the arrival of Danny Cipriani, Owen Williams is already there.
So maybe fair to say behind both?
Is he good at fullback, or break glass option?

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Post by Maine man Mon 09 Jul 2018, 6:25 pm

Would have preferred his older brother but unfortunately he has been capped by England. He's a decent club player but I can't help but feel a bit underwhelmed. But at this stage we can't afford to fussy.

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Post by Kingshu Mon 09 Jul 2018, 6:29 pm

I still hope we are allowed a top class NIQ OH post WC, but this will cover in the meantime.

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Post by clivemcl Mon 09 Jul 2018, 6:53 pm

I was snoozing on this one. Late to the party it would seem! Time to read up!

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Post by clivemcl Mon 09 Jul 2018, 6:57 pm

Ok so first thing I’ll say is, stop talking about McPhilips getting blocked. Both are equally Irish as far as the IRFU are concerned. If Burns is better than McPhilips, what’s the problem?


Last edited by clivemcl on Mon 09 Jul 2018, 8:07 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by formerly known as Sam Mon 09 Jul 2018, 7:17 pm

Maine man wrote:Would have preferred his older brother but unfortunately he has been capped by England. He's a decent club player but I can't help but feel a bit underwhelmed. But at this stage we can't afford to fussy.

If you like the way Freddie plays then you'll like Billy. Billy isn't quite as ready to produce something from nothing but he is more reliable. There is nothing on him so he's agile and quick but physically unimpressive. At fullback he's great ball in hand and kicking but nothing to mention under the high ball. Some of the Glaws boys will give you more details but he's a decent signing and I think that Glaws would have preferred to keep him and lose Williams but none of the Welsh teams could afford Williams.

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Post by carpet baboon Mon 09 Jul 2018, 7:37 pm

Good signing in my eyes.
He's 24 with plenty of experience.
Good goal kicker.
IQ and able to play 15
And will have some serious motivation. He's arriving just before a world cup, has stated he wants to play international rugby, and covers two positions that Ireland are relatively short of experience in, outside of the two incumbents.
If he's playing well he could well find himself in the world cup squad.

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Post by HongKongCherry Mon 09 Jul 2018, 8:32 pm

Gutted to see him go. He was always going to play 2nd fiddle to Cips but he'd have been an able backup. Not quite good as Freddie but still a very good FH who can spot gaps and has a very accurate boot. He worked really hard on his defence and is far from his weakness now. The only negative is that he can drift in and out of games but I'd have far rather he stayed. As Sam said I think most of us thought Williams was off but Dragons couldn't stump up the cash.
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Post by carpet baboon Mon 09 Jul 2018, 9:22 pm

HongKongCherry wrote:Gutted to see him go. He was always going to play 2nd fiddle to Cips but he'd have been an able backup. Not quite good as Freddie but still a very good FH who can spot gaps and has a very accurate boot. He worked really hard on his defence and is far from his weakness now. The only negative is that he can drift in and out of games but I'd have far rather he stayed. As Sam said I think most of us thought Williams was off but Dragons couldn't stump up the cash.

What's his goal kicking range like?

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Post by HongKongCherry Mon 09 Jul 2018, 10:01 pm

Not much more than 45m. But he can be an 80%+ within that range.
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Post by marty2086 Mon 09 Jul 2018, 10:47 pm

HongKongCherry wrote:Not much more than 45m. But he can be an 80%+ within that range.

Was it him or Williams I remember towards the end of the season trying to hit a penalty from inside their own half? They missed but at least took a stab at it

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Post by geoff999rugby Mon 09 Jul 2018, 11:11 pm

Some people don't watch the Aviva enough

Billy Burns is comfortably better than any other player 10 in Ireland other than Sexton

This has been bubbling under but I didn't believe it - delighted.
I would confident this is with Schmidt full approval and he seen as Sextons back up because Schmidt doesn't trust any of the alternatives


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Post by geoff999rugby Mon 09 Jul 2018, 11:12 pm

Kingshu wrote:I still hope we are allowed a top class NIQ OH post WC, but this will cover in the meantime.


After this signing we will be getting no NIQ 10 after the WC

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Post by geoff999rugby Mon 09 Jul 2018, 11:17 pm

Also a utility back on the way apparently

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Post by clivemcl Mon 09 Jul 2018, 11:27 pm

Sort of the way rugby has been going isn't it. Being able to play a few positions makes you much more appealing, especially if you are squad player level.

Options at 15 now are what... Ludik, Gilroy, Nelson, Addison and Burns?

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Post by Standulstermen Mon 09 Jul 2018, 11:30 pm

All very positive it seems and a bit like Addison he seems highly thought of in England. If (as Geoff says) theres another signing on the way to supplement the backs that would go someway to allay my fears for the season.

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Post by HongKongCherry Tue 10 Jul 2018, 8:47 am

marty2086 wrote:
HongKongCherry wrote:Not much more than 45m. But he can be an 80%+ within that range.

Was it him or Williams I remember towards the end of the season trying to hit a penalty from inside their own half? They missed but at least took a stab at it

That wasn't Billy. He didn't take many kicks last season and his stats won't look that good. The season before he was c.85% accurate and was the main kicker. He started last season with a thigh injury so Twelvetrees started as the main kicker and never relinquished the role.
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Post by marty2086 Tue 10 Jul 2018, 8:54 am

geoff999rugby wrote:
Kingshu wrote:I still hope we are allowed a top class NIQ OH post WC, but this will cover in the meantime.


After this signing we will be getting no NIQ 10 after the WC

If Burns was to be capped by Joe you'd think he's here to stay as he'd take up a NEQ spot in an AP team

Have to say though it's some bloody good work by Bryn to get that deal done given he was under contract still

geoff999rugby wrote:Also a utility back on the way apparently

Any names being mentioned geoff?

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 10 Jul 2018, 2:15 pm

One of the best posters on the other site saying two more to come.
I don't have names but a utility back and a forward who will be a LH or a Lock

Here is a piece of speculation.
Our signings were being stopped because IRFU didn't trust us.
Do they now?
Is it because they have secured a CEO who knows what he is about, plus Easterby has sent back positive feedback about
Payne etc.
As a consequence has Nucifora said we can, provisionally, back these guys now.
Something seems to have led to more relaxed supportive words coming out of the IRFU

Just a thought



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Post by marty2086 Tue 10 Jul 2018, 2:27 pm

It would be a strange approach to take, especially as they sign off on everything. Surely things just needed extra scrutiny from Nucifora?

If it wasn't the quality of the signings and more the coaching they'd receive surely Payne was being closely watching in Australia and Joe and others could have picked his brain about Ulster?

It's also a dangerous game to play and could have damaged Ulster long term

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Post by clivemcl Tue 10 Jul 2018, 2:40 pm

Rumours mean very little at this stage since we now now the process is for Ulster to talk to players, get everything sorted and only then go to the IRFU for approval.

Who knows how many people we've had lined up but never were permitted.

Burns in his interview mentioned 'Paddy' - as in McAllister. Wonder might we see him back then? Were they good mates I wonder?

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Post by rodders Tue 10 Jul 2018, 2:42 pm

The IRFU only sign off on NIE players, hence they blocked Janties but wouldn't have any say on Burns.

Given Burns was at Gloucester it seems likely that Cunningham was the instigator of that deal.

Not sure how I feel about this one, if he impresses it could be an inspired piece of business.

Good to hear a utility back is coming too as we are very light in the back 3.
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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 10 Jul 2018, 2:44 pm

All I can say the words being spoken seem to be warmer and more supportive since Logan has gone and the IRFU appear to be more sympathetic to our player shortage.

Payne spent very little time actually in Australia.

As to damage I believe they considered us a complete mess they were not prepared to support without the drastic change that has occurred.

I don't know Rodders - it may well be a Cunningham signing but I can see Schmidt hands all over this.
I would not be surprised if he is not convinced about Carbery as a back up and wanted alternatives.
Also why would Burns come to Ulster, he could have joined other Aviva teams - the carrot of a WC place seems highly probably to me

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Post by clivemcl Tue 10 Jul 2018, 2:48 pm

I suspect the IRFU would be more ok with a NIQ old head who is a utility back. Somebody who can be moved around the backline is less likely to block one player. So who know, we might get an interesting few signings yet...

I see The Irish squad boys holidays are now over, so I imagine it's back to full squad pre-season next week?

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Post by rodders Tue 10 Jul 2018, 2:50 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
I don't know Rodders - it may well be a Cunningham signing but I can see Schmidt hands all over this.
I would not be surprised if he is not convinced about Carbery as a back up and wanted alternatives.
Also why would Burns come to Ulster, he could have joined other Aviva teams - the carrot of a WC place seems highly probably to me  

I would expect Schmidt will cap him in the autumn to tie him in to Ireland. You could be right but I'd have thought the Ulster management would be more connected to what is going on at Gloucester than Schmidt.

Nucifera did hint though they were negotiating with some IE fly half options so perhaps he was referring to Burns.
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Post by marty2086 Tue 10 Jul 2018, 3:13 pm

rodders wrote:The IRFU only sign off on NIE players, hence they blocked Janties but wouldn't have any say on Burns.

Well if that was true we would have already had an IQ fly half and another centre too

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Post by PhilBB Tue 10 Jul 2018, 3:53 pm

marty2086 wrote:
rodders wrote:The IRFU only sign off on NIE players, hence they blocked Janties but wouldn't have any say on Burns.

Well if that was true we would have already had an IQ fly half and another centre too

You tell him, Martyn.

It seems that some still don't understand that the IRFU contract all of the players, so you keep fighting the good fight and putting those people right.
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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 10 Jul 2018, 4:09 pm

The IRFU allow the Provinces a few hand in signing IQ players, provided they can afford them.
The PJ/SO situation was exceptional and should be considered as such.
There is a legal difference between a CC and a Provincial contract

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Post by PhilBB Tue 10 Jul 2018, 4:13 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:The IRFU allow the Provinces a few hand in signing IQ players, provided they can afford them.
The PJ/SO situation was exceptional and should be considered as such.
There is a legal difference between a CC and a Provincial contract

ALL contracts are held by the IRFU. End.
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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 10 Jul 2018, 4:55 pm

There is a legal difference between a Provincial contract and a Central Contract. End


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