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Ulster 2023/2024 Season

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Don Alfonso
demosthenes
jimbopip
clivemcl
Pot Hale
Kingshu
geoff999rugby
Maine man
Pete330v2
Welshmushroom
Unclear
LeinsterFan4life
carpet baboon
neilthom7
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Post by neilthom7 Mon 16 Oct 2023, 9:02 pm

First topic message reminder :

For the good, the bad and the ugly of Ulster rugby this season. Lets hope mostly good.

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed 14 Feb 2024, 4:27 pm

So on the rumour front the following has been put to me as leaving

2024
O’Sullivan
French
Jones
Shanahan
Burns
Marshall
Addison

2025
Ewers
O'Connor

That would mean Luke Marshall retiring

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed 14 Feb 2024, 4:30 pm

I would assume Saunderson and Wilson will get development contracts (You cant go into a season with 4 professional props)
Maybe McDonald coming back from Connacht to contest with McKee from the SH bench spot

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Post by clivemcl Wed 14 Feb 2024, 4:36 pm

Doesn’t inspire confidence. I guess most of those names don’t strike me as major losses, but still, it would leave us thin on the ground.

Shanahan never set the world alight, but I had grown to have faith enough in him when we needed him. If Doak is going to play 10, it all leaves us very thin in the half backs.

Here’s hoping we can get some decent signings in. Or better yet, could we hope the departures of Shanners and Burns are a sign that we have replacements planned? Or is that wishful thinking?

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Post by carpet baboon Wed 14 Feb 2024, 6:07 pm

Do Ulster actually plan anything.????????

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Post by carpet baboon Wed 14 Feb 2024, 6:46 pm

And what has happened to O'Sullivan? At one point he was playing for 80 mins and looking like he could be a decent prop
He went from Ulster's young player of the season to making the team of the season and getting capped to where he is now.
Have we coached him to get worse or have injuries ruined him?

Also didn't know he was the Ulster women's scrum cosch



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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 15 Feb 2024, 12:44 pm

Being rumoured that O'Connor is retiring on the other board - would partially fit with with what I've heard elsewhere.
I thought he would stay to the end of his contract but maybe his body is telling go now.

Marshall and O'Connor have been excellent servant to the province.

I see some people saying we must be getting people in - don't hold your breath.
As I mentioned before I have not heard of a single player coming in.
To be fair my contacts are nowhere near what they were pre covid but even so I would have expected to hear something.

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Post by Kingshu Fri 16 Feb 2024, 12:11 pm

(15-9) Will Addison (Upper Eden RFC), Mike Lowry (Dromore RFC), James Hume (Instonians RFC), Jude Postlethwaite (Lisburn RFC), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch RFC), Jake Flannery (Kilfeacle RFC), Nathan Doak (Lisburn RFC);

(1-8) Andrew Warwick (Ballymena RFC), John Andrew (Ballymena RFC), Marty Moore (Barnhall RFC), Harry Sheridan (Civil Service RFC), Iain Henderson (C) (Belfast Academy RFC), David McCann (Cooke RFC), Marcus Rea (Ballymena RFC), Nick Timoney (Blackrock RFC).

Replacements: Tom Stewart (Belfast Academy RFC), Steven Kitshoff (Maties RFC), Scott Wilson (Dromore RFC), Cormac Izuchukwu (Tullamore RFC), Matty Rea (Ballymena RFC), Dave Shanahan (Clontarf RFC), Luke Marshall (Ballymena RFC), Ethan McIlroy (Ballynahinch RFC).

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Post by Kingshu Fri 16 Feb 2024, 12:12 pm

McCloskey not released back is intresting?

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Post by Kingshu Fri 16 Feb 2024, 12:12 pm

McCloskey not released back is intresting?

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 16 Feb 2024, 12:23 pm

As Hansen is not going to make it maybe Henshaw is under consideration for 15?

Could it be Aki and Ringrose starting with McCloskey on the bench and Ringrose moving to the wing if needed ?
I could understand if Farrell has decided neither Lamour or Stockdale meet the brief.

Frawley on the bench could cover 10 and 15.


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Post by carpet baboon Fri 16 Feb 2024, 1:04 pm

I hope McCann comes back exactly where he left off.
And I want to see Harry and Jude performing.
So lowrey on the wing again. I want to see him coming infield a lot more not just sitting on the touch line.

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Post by neilthom7 Fri 16 Feb 2024, 1:17 pm

So we have Kitschoff and Stewart on the bench, cooney and burns nowhere to be seen despite the fact neither is on the injury report ulster produced and Lowry on the wing even though McIlroy is available.

Am I the only one wondering what the *insert bad word* this selection is all about? And it’s not the first time I’ve wondered what Dan was doing with his selections.

I could understand if it was in a row of games but they haven’t played in near enough a month and then are off again next weekend so why is the strongest available team not playing.


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Post by Pete330v2 Fri 16 Feb 2024, 1:48 pm

What's the point in paying a premium rate for Kitshoff to sit him on the bench? Granted that pack should be able to do a job but if they don't there's no point in having bench impact if you're 20 points behind. McIlroy may have been out with injury but it was his face, not his legs that was in rehab. McIlroy should have started over Lowry on the wing and Lowry over Addison at 15......IMO.

Lets hope they prove me wrong and don't screw the pooch but lets just say my faith has been sorely tested

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Post by carpet baboon Fri 16 Feb 2024, 4:33 pm

Pete330v2 wrote:What's the point in paying a premium rate for Kitshoff to sit him on the bench? Granted that pack should be able to do a job but if they don't there's no point in having bench impact if you're 20 points behind. McIlroy may have been out with injury but it was his face, not his legs that was in rehab. McIlroy should have started over Lowry on the wing and Lowry over Addison at 15......IMO.

Lets hope they prove me wrong and don't screw the pooch but lets just say my faith has been sorely tested

I'm going to do my best and try to be positive about this selection.

So..... The plan is for a pretty fast game in the first 50 minutes to run them around with lowrey popping up as a second play maker all over the shop causing havoc.
Then we bring on the replacement front row to drive home our advantage in the pack.

We discover that Doak and Flannery have been tearing up trees the last month in training and they bring it onto the pitch and control the game from kick off.
Harry puts in an all action display that is way ahead.of his age, with McCann doing his best POM impersonation and demoralising the ospreys with constant turnover and general shiphousery.

Jude shows he has the power and handling of Stu and the eye for a gap of Hume plus shows a lovely touch with his boot..

Izzy has an outstanding cameo where not only does he show his power hitting rucks but shows off his 7s skills with a 60 meter break from inside his own 22 where he offloads as he is brought down for Hume to finish under the posts.

Orr.... We are witness to another lack luster display that we lose from a winner position

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Post by Unclear Fri 16 Feb 2024, 5:01 pm

Ulster the new France, or France returning to Ulster tendencies? Who can say. I wish it was surprise that my highest expectation is a lack lustre win, and most likely outcome a lack lustre loss. The joys or sport Rolling Eyes

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Post by clivemcl Fri 16 Feb 2024, 10:17 pm

What’s the story with this young debutant 15 for Leinster? Henry McErlean? I read that he’s from Cushendall.

So, any chance he gets lured back up to his home province??

Anyone any background on him?

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Post by neilthom7 Sat 17 Feb 2024, 1:08 pm

Yeah he grew up in Cushendall but him and his family moved to Dublin when he was still in school. Very talented player, played for the Irish U-20's, I'd assume if he has a shot with Leinster he probably won't want to come north but who knows.

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Post by clivemcl Sat 17 Feb 2024, 1:11 pm

Ah! Assumed he went down for university or something. If he he moved when he was younger that probably changes things.
You never know though. He would at least be more poachable than a truebred Leinsterman! 😂

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Post by geoff999rugby Sun 18 Feb 2024, 4:20 pm

McErlean's family went down when he was 12 - no chance of a return

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Post by clivemcl Sun 18 Feb 2024, 4:30 pm

Can we have Flannery never wear the ten shirt again, and please, break the bank to keep Burns. For the love of God, please!

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Post by clivemcl Sun 18 Feb 2024, 4:42 pm

Ok… maybe he can stick around.

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Post by clivemcl Sun 18 Feb 2024, 4:48 pm

I’m back to being livid.

Ulster are officially a shambles

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Post by geoff999rugby Sun 18 Feb 2024, 5:25 pm

Never have I been more relieved I decided not to buy a Season Ticket - what a joke !

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Post by Pete330v2 Sun 18 Feb 2024, 5:31 pm

Surely only a deludedly loyal Ulster fan will buy a season ticket next year. With the reduced squad, useless coaching and joke performances what a future we have to look forward to.
Will the IRFU step in? Hardly, we aren't Munster

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Post by carpet baboon Sun 18 Feb 2024, 6:31 pm

3 seasons ago we have Hume looking like he was going to be a genuine contender for the 13 shirt for Ireland, O'Toole and EOS were playing 80min games and getting called up to the Ireland squad. Baloucoune just needed a bit of extra work to be an international. Treadwell was making Ireland match day 23s on the regular.
Marty Moore was looking like he could be back to International standard.
All of those players and a good few more have gone backwards, not even a shadow of there former selves.
Just look at Stockdale today, dropping balls you and absolutely bereft of any confidence.
The coaches have taken talented players and broken then

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Post by geoff999rugby Sun 18 Feb 2024, 6:59 pm

I posted some time ago that I met McFarland and took to a dislike to him.

I like him even less now.
Not a pleasant individual from what I saw a couple of years back.

Over the years we really have had some awful head coaches - not one since Alan Solomon would I put in the top draw.
Alan Solomon did not achieve enough given the resources he had.
Mark McCall was one of the most decent people you could ever meet but was only learning his trade here.
McLaughlin was an outstanding tactician but no leader of men.
Kiss and Doak needed a more experienced person above them but instead they were thrown in out of their depth

As for Williams, Anscombe, Gibbes and McFarland - words fail me, actually **&! and %^$%£$" come to mind

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Post by clivemcl Mon 19 Feb 2024, 3:52 pm

Following on from my McErlain post - I'm just now hearing another Leinster player at then weekend is an Ulsterman - former CCB player John McKee who studies at UCB.
I'm sure some of you folks know his name, but it was new to me.

Anyway - there's lots could be said about Ulster, but could I ask about one specific thing - Tom Stewart's throws.

I mean, it bewilders me that he continues to use his current technique/tactic, or that the coaches allow him.

You see him debating with refs/touch judges and I'm like 'enough already - just change your throw style!'.

I assume his argument is that the throw itself is 'straight', but he doesn't throw the ball from the centre. It looks to me like he effectively leans over, towards his players and throws from there, whilst technically his feet remain on the mark.

But how many times does he have to get pinged before he and Ulster realise it's just not going to fly with refs! Ulster 2023/2024 Season - Page 6 1f624

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Post by neilthom7 Mon 19 Feb 2024, 7:24 pm

Given the capabilities of the Ulster coaching staff they likely won't even get him to change.

As for McKee he has been around at Leinster on the verges of the squad for a couple of year now. As you say he moved down there for Uni. Probably more chance he would leave Leinster especially with Sheehan there although I don't think Ulster are in the market for him right now.

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Post by carpet baboon Mon 19 Feb 2024, 8:16 pm

Have to say I think Stockdale is somewhat lucky to be called up to the Ireland squad again. Who knows maybe in a different environment he's a different player

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Post by neilthom7 Mon 19 Feb 2024, 8:34 pm

I'd actually really like to see what some of those guys played like in the Ireland team. That would potentially tell us quite a lot. Obviously won't happen because of how they are playing but it would be interesting to see if they were still as bad as they are for Ulster or not.

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 20 Feb 2024, 9:55 am

I know some on here have wondered about big signings.
As I have said I cant see it myself.

Typically by this time of year Ulster have any big signings wrapped up.
Even inter provincial transfers are nearly always in place by the end of the 6Nations.

By way of illustrations:
Kitshoff was signed before Christmas
Ewers was signed in Janaury
Flannery was signed early March.

The clock is ticking and nothing on the horizon

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 20 Feb 2024, 10:05 am

Next Season let regularly put out a XV something like the following:

Kitshoff, Stewart, O'Toole, Henderson, Izzy, Sheridan, McCann, Timoney, Cooney, Doak, Stockdale, McCloskey, Hume, Postlewaite, Moore

Bench: Saunderson, McCormick, Wilson, Hopes, Crothers, McLoughlin, McNabney, Lowry, McIlroy

Lets have a coach who is good working with kids.
Would we lose a lot, of course we would, but we will find out which ones will sink and which will thrive under a decent coaching team.

In addition of the many who are stealing a living, not listed, would get a big kick up the backside and be on notice there is no contract extension for them unless they improve.

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Post by Maine man Tue 20 Feb 2024, 11:43 am

Hi Geoff, do you see Postlewaite more as a winger or centre? Or is it needs must play him on the wing ahead of Baloucoune?

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 20 Feb 2024, 1:12 pm

No I don't.

I just think none of the alternatives are up to it.

I have never known Ulster rugby so devoid of talent in the back three.
Moore is essentially a centre converted to 15

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Post by Pete330v2 Wed 21 Feb 2024, 5:08 am

McFarland stepping down. Maybe he should have gone some time ago but the badly needed change is better late than never.
Who steps up to take the lead? Who can win back the dressing room?

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Post by carpet baboon Wed 21 Feb 2024, 6:05 am

Some reports saying Soper will step in till end of season. I say we beg the IRFU to get Ritchie Murphy in charge and let him bring through all the kids.

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Post by Don Alfonso Wed 21 Feb 2024, 9:00 am

I would absolutely love to get Murphy in.

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Post by Pete330v2 Wed 21 Feb 2024, 9:16 am

carpet baboon wrote:Some reports saying Soper will step in till end of season. I say we beg the IRFU to get Ritchie Murphy in charge and let him bring through all the kids.

That'll be our luck. Promote someone who's not fit to do the job they're being promoted out of.

Has David Humphreys got any time on his hands before he takes over from Nucifora?

Murphy, as soon as the 6N is done with would be the intelligent fit, he'll have a bit of time on his hands, he's a proven entity and a winning one at that. That's not the Ulster way though so pessimism is high.

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed 21 Feb 2024, 9:23 am

Post from KOTH on the other site

'Watching from a far (with little to report)

No Leinster players want to come north or to Munster so we are going to be lighter next year than this obviously. Players who have turned both provinces down are H Bryne, Frawley, Pendergast, Penny, Deegan and Connors.'



No surprise there.
For me the 'little to report' comments fits exactly with what I have heard - no new players exist on the rumour mill which is very unusual

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Post by Pete330v2 Wed 21 Feb 2024, 9:26 am

Is Jonno Gibbes free for a few months ? Very Happy

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Post by Pete330v2 Wed 21 Feb 2024, 9:28 am

geoff999rugby wrote:Post from KOTH on the other site

'Watching from a far (with little to report)

No Leinster players want to come north or to Munster so we are going to be lighter next year than this obviously. Players who have turned both provinces down are H Bryne, Frawley, Pendergast, Penny, Deegan and Connors.'



No surprise there.
For me the 'little to report' comments fits exactly with what I have heard - no new players exist on the rumour mill which is very  unusual

It's understandable, would any young player want what talent they have coached out of them?
Perhaps, if the right person was going to be mentoring them they'd be keen as mustard to get regular 1stXV rugby. It's nice to dream

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Post by carpet baboon Wed 21 Feb 2024, 10:06 am

Get Murphy in and I'm pretty sure a good few of the last few years U20s would happily come North.
Or find a secret sugar daddy and get ROG

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed 21 Feb 2024, 10:11 am

McFarland gone !!!! Yahoo

Good riddance - in the last 4 years has overseen serious decline and a nasty piece of work to boot
Players were told last night

I suspect Soper will be in temporary charge to the end of the season

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Post by clivemcl Wed 21 Feb 2024, 10:22 am

Like I’ve said before, ability is obviously important when choosing a new coach, but for a variety of reasons, a well known name would be prudent.

- Giving fans hope and selling season tickets.
- Other players might be more inclined to sign if it’s under a known name.

Murphy or ROG would both help to ur chances with signings, and potentially ticket sales. Which is absolutely vital at this stage.


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Post by Pete330v2 Wed 21 Feb 2024, 11:12 am

geoff999rugby wrote:McFarland gone !!!! Yahoo

Good riddance - in the last 4 years has overseen serious decline and a nasty piece of work to boot
Players were told last night

I suspect Soper will be in temporary charge to the end of the season

Thinking back to when Payne left due to an inability to work with Dan and his "my way or the highway" approach. Is there any hope that he's been holding Soper back and his leaving will unleash Soper's coaching gifts. If not then the season isn't about to get any better and into the next until the new guy beds in.

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Post by Maine man Wed 21 Feb 2024, 11:19 am

Just read in the Belfast Telegraph that Ulster have won only 15 of their last 32 games!
So who is available for Ulster then? Any decent Saffer coaches out there? Payne maybe? O'Gara (not a chance imo)?

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Post by carpet baboon Wed 21 Feb 2024, 11:29 am

Payne was at the ospreys game. More likely he was just there to see some old friends, but you never know

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Post by Pete330v2 Wed 21 Feb 2024, 12:34 pm

Payne just took the new role of defence coach at the Scarlets after their recent reshuffle so unlikely.
ROG would be a complete non-starter.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, we're in for a rough ride so hold on tight, things could get bumpy.

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Ulster 2023/2024 Season - Page 6 Empty Re: Ulster 2023/2024 Season

Post by geoff999rugby Wed 21 Feb 2024, 12:36 pm

Its Murphy not Soper

The fact they haven't given it to Soper suggest to me he is on the way out as well

geoff999rugby

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Ulster 2023/2024 Season - Page 6 Empty Re: Ulster 2023/2024 Season

Post by Pete330v2 Wed 21 Feb 2024, 12:37 pm

From the Irish Indo:

Ireland Under-20s coach Richie Murphy is set to be appointed as Ulster head coach on an interim basis when Dan McFarland's departure is confirmed by the province.
The former out-half has guided the underage stars to back-to-back Grand Slams and is on course for a third successive Championship, but the Irish Independent understands the lure of a senior professional job will prove too strong.
Murphy was a skills coach at Leinster and with the senior men's international team before striking out on his own with the U-20s in 2021.
It remains to be seen whether Ulster will cast their net further when seeking a long-term replacement, but Murphy has a chance to audition for the role in the coming weeks with Ulster looking to get their campaign back on track against the Dragons on Saturday week.
Murphy is likely to remain in charge of the U-20s for their clash with Wales on Friday night.
McFarland is set to step down with immediate effect after almost six seasons in charge. The Ulster squad was due to be informed of McFarland’s decision in a meeting today. The 51-year-old has been under pressure for some time, and the defeats by Harlequins and Ospreys in European and URC competitions respectively added to the pressure.
Assistant coach Dan Soper has been mentioned as a possible interim. Ulster – currently in eighth place in the URC table – are due to host the Dragons in Ravenhill on Saturday week.
They will be away to Montpellier in April in the round of 16 of the Challenge Cup, having failed to get out of the pool in the Champions Cup.
Oxfordshire-born McFarland was top of Ulster’s shopping list when they appointed him in 2018, but despite a positive opening couple of seasons – leading to a contract extension – he couldn’t deliver the silverware the province desperately need.
There is a clear out of the playing staff coming at the end of this season, including Billy Burns moving to Munster. It is understood there are no plans to recruit a replacement for him.
Two weeks ago, a senior IRFU source told the Irish Independent that the High Performance Unit in Lansdowne Road were working to try and find a solution to the sustained slump in mood and results in Ulster.
The strained financial situation in the province was seen as a key to whether or not McFarland would be kept on.

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