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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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Ulster 2023/2024 Season - Page 8 Empty Ulster 2023/2024 Season

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 Mon 26 Feb 2024, 2:59 pm

Curtis has left, Marshall may well retire.
If McCloskey left Ulster would be going into next season with only 3 Centres -
Hume, Postlewaite, Moore (who is one of only 2 15's if Addison leaves)
what could go wrong Shocked

Moxham was tried at 13 but was beyond clueless
Carson perhaps - no the rumours are he is leaving and to honest I don't rate him anyway.

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed 28 Feb 2024, 11:38 am

Currently the players unavailable for selection are Rob Herring (elbow), Ben Moxham (knee), Stewart Moore (thigh), Alan O'Connor (ankle​), Callum Reid (back), Kieran Treadwell (ribs).

So lock is a problem - Henderson plus Izzy, Sheridan or Matty Rea I assume.
Backrow good though - Timoney, McCann and another - I would assume Ewers

Hearing rumours that O'Connor's body just isn't up to it any more, could be a forced retirement even though a contract till 2025

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Post by Pete330v2 Wed 28 Feb 2024, 12:54 pm

Hendo and Sheridan would be the preference just for that extra grunt. Ewers, Timoney and McCann would be a more than capable backrow. If they can see fit to start the man with the large pay packet it'd be nice so Kitshoff, Stewart, O'Toole (if released).
That'd be the starting pack sorted.
Backs should take even less thinking. Cooney & Burns with Stockdale, Marshall, Hume, Baloucoune, and Lowry.

Start strong with the strongest XV, get some daylight between the scores and throw on the bench to finish off. It's not rocket science and the performance will give the players the chance to show that Dan was indeed the problem. I hope they can go out in front of the home crowd and really make a statement.

That's sad for O'Connor, he's always been a great servant, a solid, reliable lock who always gives his all.


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Post by neilthom7 Wed 28 Feb 2024, 7:23 pm

I thought Henderson is injured, wasn't he on their medical report?

Just checked he is stated as unavailable although no mention of treadwell so maybe he is back?

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 29 Feb 2024, 8:55 am

Neil you are correct.

What I think has happened is earlier in the week Treadwell was on the list and Henderson was declared as being released to play.

What the latest report suggests is that although released Henderson is not fit.

The question is what has happened to Treadwell.
Has he made an unexpected recovery or has someone simply forgot to include him on the list?

Hopefully the former otherwise we are down to Sheridan, Izzy and Matty Rea

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Post by neilthom7 Thu 29 Feb 2024, 9:24 am

Yeah lets hope Treadwell is fit, we have enough line out issues without going into it when just those locks.

Will be interesting to see how the play, could give us first indications of if Dan was the biggest problem or if there are further issues

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Post by Maine man Fri 01 Mar 2024, 12:43 pm

Ulster team up:

15-9) Will Addison (Upper Eden RUFC), Ethan McIlroy (Ballynahinch RFC), James Hume (C) (Instonians RFC), Jude Postlethwaite (Lisburn RFC), Mike Lowry (Dromore RFC), Billy Burns (Walcot RFC), John Cooney (Gonzaga College);

(1-8) Steven Kitshoff (Maties RFC), Tom Stewart (Belfast Academy), Tom O’Toole (Ashbourne RFC), Cormac Izuchukwu (Tullamore RFC), Harry Sheridan (Civil Service NI RFC), David McCann (Cooke RFC), Marcus Rea (Ballymena RFC), Nick Timoney (Blackrock College).

Replacements: John Andrew (Ballymena RFC), Andrew Warwick (Ballymena RFC), Scott Wilson (Dromore RFC), Kieran Treadwell (Chipstead RFC), Sean Reffell (Bromley RFC), Nathan Doak (Lisburn RFC), Luke Marshall (Ballymena RFC), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch RFC).

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Post by neilthom7 Fri 01 Mar 2024, 6:32 pm

Treadwell on the bench then, thats good news as there's not a lot of experience in that second row

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Post by carpet baboon Sat 02 Mar 2024, 6:12 pm

I'm feeling optimistic.
Let's see how long it lasts

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Post by Unclear Sat 02 Mar 2024, 8:30 pm

Some good stuff in the first half, but, there is always the but.

Not quite the same as the Bulls/Stormers game earlier.

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Post by carpet baboon Sat 02 Mar 2024, 8:55 pm

Been some nice offloads and a few stupid ones.
Both second row have been busy, Sheridan looking good.
Jude has carried very well, but some of his passing has been to no-one
Liked mike popping up all over the pitch.
And I still think McCann could be Ireland's new POM. A horrible 6 who is a good lineout option and a menace at the breakdown

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Post by Unclear Sat 02 Mar 2024, 9:23 pm

How can a 49-26 win feel underwhelming? Some good stuff and some poor defence. What has happened to the maul attack and defence? The pack never looked like imposing itself in that area and the it looked like all the Dragons tries came from that either directly or off positions established by that. That will really need to be sorted before the SA games.

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Post by Pete330v2 Sun 03 Mar 2024, 12:48 am

New signings to be announced in the next couple of weeks according to the Q&A session. Werner Kok a strong rumour.
Oh and the performance tonight was as hoped with the likes of Lowry looking energised and back to form. He wasn't the only player that looked pleased to be free from the shackles. Yes it was only the Dragons and yes it wasn't perfect. Also yes it's the hope that kills but yes it was better than the dross we've endured of late.

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Post by neilthom7 Sun 03 Mar 2024, 12:43 pm

So think last night was a grade of attack good defence bad for me. The attack played much better, a lot more inventiveness to it, Jude had an excellent game, he is a big lad.

The kicking game was in general better with the kick chase definitely having been upped.

The line out functioned better than I had thought it would too which was nice to see and the scrum decimated Dragons although we shant get too carried away on those front as much tougher tests will come there.

Only downside was the defence and especially the maul defence, Dragons found it very easy to advance their maul.

Crowd wasn't huge, maybe just over half full and tbh they weren't that into it especially at the beginning, hopefully though 7 tries begins to lift the mood

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Post by Welshmushroom Sun 03 Mar 2024, 1:14 pm

Has to be said though Dragons were woeful.

Given Ulster's run in, I only view 2 games as possible gimme's. Scarlets (Away) & Sharks (Away).

I'd expect the other Leinster, Munster, Cardiff, Benetton, Stormers will all pose significant challenges to them. Possibly looking at only 2 wins in that lot and the issue is if 2 of those losses come against Stormers and Munster you can probably say goodbye to a top 8 finish.

It's not looking great on paper. Hopefully for Ulster fans they can do well and make those top 8 playoffs.

I will say i dont think anyone drawing a SA side in the Qtrs will be to happy. They tend to be really good cup playoff teams.

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Post by clivemcl Sun 03 Mar 2024, 1:44 pm

Yea I'm inclined to agree with Unclear. Somehow that result seemed underwhelming.

I think because, the Dragons side allowed some of our more risky creative play to pay off, and yet we weren't scoring our typical, more straightforward tries - like line out mauls etc.

I just don't think many of those tries are going to happen against most other clubs in the league.
And the other clubs in the league will punish our mistakes and poor defence more than Dragons did.

I'm absolutely done with getting caught up in a few good plays by youngsters.
Been there done that, it never lasts.
Scott Wilson start of season - case in point.

I'm more positive about Hume seeming to up his game, that a few good plays by Posthlewaite.
I'll be glad to be proved wrong, but we so badly need for young stars to transition into key consistent players, and that's not been happening (bar McCann).

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Post by carpet baboon Sun 03 Mar 2024, 3:33 pm

You could see what the plan was with lowrey on the wing this time, he seemed to have licence to roam and although it didn't always come off, you could see that it could become very effective with him and Addison able to step in and be an extra playmaker.

The two young locks didn't look out of place to me, and with Henderson and Treadwell pluss Hopes coming up I think we can be alright without O'Connor.

If reffell can stay fit, him Timoney and McCann look like a very good backrow. But we need some of the academy lads to start stepping up soon.

But it is not a good sign that the dragons scored 4 and our maul defense was terrible, the saffers will have a field day if we don't sort that out.

Murphy has a lot of work to do but it's not all terrible.

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed 06 Mar 2024, 7:42 pm

So a little clarity of those who will survive the chop.

O'Toole and Hume get 3 year extensions
Reffell gets a 2 years extension

Kok now tipped to join
McCloskey now appears to be considering Bayonne.

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Post by Maine man Wed 06 Mar 2024, 7:46 pm

Don't blame McCloskey one bit if he goes.

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Post by clivemcl Wed 06 Mar 2024, 7:55 pm

Why are we signing players like Kok? 31 yr old, a foreigner who isn’t a superstar.
Is there really no IQ we could tempt from elsewhere? Or no other position that we would be in more need of on NIQ?

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed 06 Mar 2024, 8:46 pm

clivemcl wrote:  Why are we signing players like Kok? 31 yr old, a foreigner who isn’t a superstar.

We are hard up and he will not be that expensive

clivemcl wrote:Is there really no IQ we could tempt from elsewhere?

Ulster is a team in turmoil and they are skint so the answer to that is NO


clivemcl wrote:Or no other position that we would be in more need of on NIQ?  

Where do we suggest?
Fly half but then again no quality 10 is in our budget range.

We are seriously deficient  on the wings - Stockdale, Baloucoune (who is playing like a drain) and McIlroy (who has no pace)
After that we are forced to play players out of position or play seriously sub standard players

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Post by Maine man Wed 06 Mar 2024, 9:07 pm

SOS to Lyttle. Playing for Banbridge. Get him back.

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Post by clivemcl Wed 06 Mar 2024, 9:39 pm

Maine man wrote:SOS to Lyttle. Playing for Banbridge. Get him back.

100%

Also, Geoff, on Kok - fair enough. I guess given where we are at, it makes as much sense as anything (assuming that zero Irish players can be tempted), but it just feel like yet another foreign sticky plaster that we may feel wasn't 'worth it' in a year or two.

If he's cheap, then brilliant, and who knows, he could become a player that actually shines for us like a Terblanche or Ludik.

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Post by Pete330v2 Thu 07 Mar 2024, 9:09 am

Kok, if cheap enough could be a decent enough signing. Any time I've seen the Sharks he stands out as the player you don't want allow time or space on the ball or he's away. Full of energy and pace, something we're deficient of on the wing. He also covers centre so there's a bit of flexibility there. He'll be a very useful squad player I reckon.
Highlights of Lyttle popped up on my youtube the other day and I still can't understand how anyone with half a working brain cell didn't go all out to retain his services. Another case of the type of player that we need.

If Stu is going then fair play to the guy, he owes Ulster nothing and his bank balance will thank him.

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Post by clivemcl Thu 07 Mar 2024, 9:21 am

I guess I’m just refusing to get even remotely excited by a foreign winger as long as our current setup fails to get the best out of Stockdale and Balacoune.

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 07 Mar 2024, 11:56 am

True but McFarland will no longer be coach - one big step in the right direction.

The days of signing the likes of Pienaer, Afoa, Muller, Payne are long gone.
We are no longer remotely in that price bracket.

Kitshoff was, given our budget, a mistake and will be the last player of that stature for some time.

We will only have the 2 NIQ players next year - I'd be amazed if anyone else joins

The discarding of Lyttle has been shown up as being one of the most stupid decisions an Ulster coach has ever made.

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Post by Pete330v2 Thu 07 Mar 2024, 12:49 pm

"The discarding of Lyttle has been shown up as being one of the most stupid decisions an Ulster coach has ever made."

Wouldn't it be nice if, with McFarland gone that he would be approached.

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Post by Unclear Thu 07 Mar 2024, 2:10 pm

Given the ins and outs etc with the squad, a serious question showing my high levels of ignorance. Who actually makes (or rather made) the decisions on squad composition and compensation? I assume it was likely to be a committee decision, but who was on the committee and what weight was given to their views? I am content with McFarland going, just on the failures in coaching, but how much else was he actually responsible for, and how much further does the clearout need to be to make the changes required to make Ulster a reasonably competent institution? I don't believe Dan McF can be solely responsible for the major slow motion car crash that is unfolding.

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 07 Mar 2024, 2:31 pm

In most situations the CEO and Cunningham determine the budget, following the directives from the IRFU, and the coach decides how to spend it.

When lower profile coaches are in charge McLoughlin, Kiss, Doak others get more involved - Humphreys, Cunningham.

Having said all that there is considerable overlap and consultation.

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Post by Kingshu Thu 07 Mar 2024, 6:14 pm

Lyttle was a shame, but don't think it was a mistake, wfrom what I read he wasnt happy with the amount of gametime he was getting, gave it last season to see if got more but wasn't enough, and went to pursue other career opportunities, ie the farm.
Maybe it was an excuse and just didn't like McF and always wondered why another province didn't pick him up. We really are thin on wingers, qould be ok to see Sexton Cut and if Lyttle could be resigned. But if Kok is coming in think he'd prob see himself down the order and not worth it.

On Doak as OH I just can't see that its the future plan to have Doak/Flannery at OH next season, neither has shown they are capable of being a 1st choice provincial OH yet. I do think something like that Frawley has moved, but for whatever reason caanot be announced untill end of season. We'll see if they get gametime in SA to build for next season or are we sticking with Burns.

For Frawley he has said himself he sees himself as an OH, with 3 OHs in front of him he'll never be an OH at Leinster, will be a very good utility back. Think Frawley weighted up if he wanted to be a Utility back at Leinster or an OH, and part of the agreement for his move was Burns being moved on to near guarentee Frawley as 1st choice OH.

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Post by Pete330v2 Fri 08 Mar 2024, 9:12 am

Kingshu wrote:Lyttle was a shame, but don't think it was a mistake, wfrom what I read he wasnt happy with the amount of gametime he was getting, gave it last season to see if got more but wasn't enough, and went to pursue other career opportunities, ie the farm.
Maybe it was an excuse and just didn't like McF and always wondered why another province didn't pick him up. We really are thin on wingers, qould be ok to see Sexton Cut and if Lyttle could be resigned. But if Kok is coming in think he'd prob see himself down the order and not worth it.

On Doak as OH I just can't see that its the future plan to have Doak/Flannery at OH next season, neither has shown they are capable of being a 1st choice provincial OH yet. I do think something like that Frawley has moved, but for whatever reason caanot be announced untill end of season. We'll see if they get gametime in SA to build for next season or are we sticking with Burns.

For Frawley he has said himself he sees himself as an OH, with 3 OHs in front of him  he'll never be an OH at Leinster, will be a very good utility back. Think Frawley weighted up if he wanted to be a Utility back at Leinster or an OH, and part of the agreement for his move was Burns being moved on to near guarentee Frawley as 1st choice OH.

A move north for Frawley would make a lot of sense both for Ulster and his own chances at having an last tilt at the Irish 10 shirt. He's not going to be anything other than a utility back for Leinster and Ireland. He'd still have a decent amount of game time at Leinster but not in the 10 shirt and more often than not from the bench. At Ulster he would be the 1st choice 10, solidifying it as his position and giving Farrell something to think about re: back up to Crowley. A run of good performances at Ulster would certainly put him in the running to knock the Byrnes off their perch.

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Post by clivemcl Fri 08 Mar 2024, 1:33 pm

Even if he isn't deemed to be better than Burns, the age thing matters a lot.
Burns gets to stick about in the Irish system, but now only as a backup. The Irish setup keeps more of their young talent in clubs where they get first team game time.

Frawley ( or a Byrne) up North makes most sense for Ulster, for Ireland, and for the player themselves.

It just comes down to 'will any of the players actually be smart enough, or compliant enough to do what it takes and accept the move?'

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 08 Mar 2024, 5:24 pm

Not so long ago the word was No Leinster player was interested in coming north.
I would not hold your breath.

In addition it should be remembered  that it is an urban myth that Ulster persuaded Leinster players to come north.
The only player with a Leinster contract who came north was Jordie Murphy and that move was initiated by the player.

On the UAFC site there is a well written piece by 'Columbo' about finances.
He confirmed what I thought that Ulster were the only Province who published full public accounts for 22-23.
What he said that I didn't know is that the plastic pitch was a IRFU loan.
As he askes there is it a real loan or a 'Munster' loan - the difference is considerable.

Worryingly he also reports a rumour that 12 players to leave(I've heard 10) and one of them is McCloskey.

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Post by carpet baboon Fri 08 Mar 2024, 9:28 pm

Bryn Ward was excellent tonight for the U20s tonight

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Post by clivemcl Fri 08 Mar 2024, 10:01 pm

Son of Andy?

Andy goes to my gym actually. I see him fairly regular. Sound guy.

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Post by Unclear Fri 08 Mar 2024, 11:06 pm

Why would anyone commit to coming north at the moment? No long term coach, plenty of rumours that the squad will be decimated and one of the best players will leave (McCloskey, and I wouldn't blame him), a history of dysfunction, and quite possibly the crisps come in the wrong coloured packets.

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Post by carpet baboon Sat 09 Mar 2024, 10:33 am

clivemcl wrote:Son of Andy?

Andy goes to my gym actually. I see him fairly regular. Sound guy.

No idea if that's his dad, but he totally out played his opposite number that a lot of the English press were heralding as the new "big thing"

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Post by carpet baboon Sat 09 Mar 2024, 10:33 am

Unclear wrote:Why would anyone commit to coming north at the moment?  No long term coach, plenty of rumours that the squad will be decimated and one of the best players will leave (McCloskey, and I wouldn't blame him), a history of dysfunction, and quite possibly the crisps come in the wrong coloured packets.  

It's the crisps been holding us back for years

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Post by geoff999rugby Sat 09 Mar 2024, 11:38 am

On better news KOTH says McCloskey staying.

For what its worth my view is no one knows for certain and a hell of a lot of decisions remain outstanding with respect to who stays and who goes.

One other good point made was why do we own an empty house just outside the ground worth 1/2 million?
That money would come in handy.
Toomunga-Allen was living in it last year - its just a couple of doors down from the Ravenhill entrance.

Toomunga-Allen - there's a player who would have been worth keeping.
A very useful player and a crowd pleaser.
Given Marty Moore is looking seriously out of condition he would have been ideal.


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Post by clivemcl Sat 09 Mar 2024, 3:27 pm

I get the feeling Toomunga-Allen hasn't found anything overly permanent since he left, just short term gigs. I may be wrong. But given his youngish family, you would imagine he'd prefer to be settled. Pity he wasn't retained.

Interesting piece on Andy Farrells son (the younger) doing the rounds. Potentially already Irish qualified already through grandparent, or at least will be soon through residency.

I think he's still very young though, but apparently better than Owen was at the same age.

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Post by Pete330v2 Wed 13 Mar 2024, 2:38 pm

Kok confirmed.

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Post by carpet baboon Wed 13 Mar 2024, 3:03 pm

He has good hair

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Post by clivemcl Wed 13 Mar 2024, 6:41 pm

He looks like he’s straight out of the WWE.

But hey, we could use some long hair and flair!

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed 13 Mar 2024, 7:29 pm

I think all but confirmed McCloskey staying.
May only be till end of contract though (2025).

Kok is relatively cheap but given our lack of even half decent wingers he is needed as squad cover.
Could be a crowd pleaser in terms of attitude but not a top NIQ player by some distance.

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Post by Pete330v2 Fri 15 Mar 2024, 9:53 am

It's good to hear that Stu is seeing out his contract although not as heartening to learn it's only because Ulster refused to release him. I always worry when a player doesn't want to be there although he'll have to maintain performance levels to maintain his stock for when the contract expires. Perhaps by then Ulster will find some wealthy benefactor to boost his salary (not Rory, the horrible little git would rarely have paid for a ticket let alone a player).

I think Kok will be a great signing, I know when we've played the Sharks he's been one player I didn't want to see on the ball because he'd invariably cause our defenders a few nightmares. I love Ulster's family guy announcement on twitter, it made me chuckle.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 15 Mar 2024, 7:03 pm

I don't think McCloskey is best pleased by how Ulster have handled the situation.

If he is not an Ireland regularly this time next year my money is definitely on him walking away

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Post by Maine man Fri 15 Mar 2024, 7:45 pm

Quick question, will Lowry see anytime at 10 this season considering Ulster's plans for next year or do they see him primarily as a back 3 player?

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Post by clivemcl Sat 16 Mar 2024, 8:36 am

Maine man wrote:Quick question, will Lowry see anytime at 10 this season considering Ulster's plans for next year or do they see him primarily as a back 3 player?

You mean considering he’s listed as an out half on the squad?
What’s that about? Just a mistake in the web/media people, or something to do with IRFU and us trying to claim he’s an out half but also a utility player often needed elsewhere?

EDIT: scratch that, I see he’s listed as ‘Universal Back’. Pretty sure he was listed as an out half at start of season.

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Post by clivemcl Sun 17 Mar 2024, 7:04 pm

Anyone follow John Cooney’s kicking page?
He’s very candid, quite opinionated, and doesn’t shy away.

He’s come under some flack for his opinions of other kickers, and hasn’t backed down.

I may be biased, but I really respect his level of self belief and his work ethic. Met him briefly a few weeks back as he was doing some kicking coaching at our club. Great guy.

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Post by Pete330v2 Tue 19 Mar 2024, 12:28 pm

The Ulster Rugby coaching team have named a 30-man squad that will travel to South Africa to play Hollywoodbets Sharks and DHL Stormers over the next two weekends in the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Forwards:
Steven Kitshoff, Andrew Warwick, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Scott Wilson, Tom Stewart, John Andrew, Rob Herring, Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson, Harry Sheridan, Cormac Izuchukwu, Matty Rea, David McCann, Nick Timoney, Marcus Rea, Sean Reffell;

Backs:
John Cooney, Dave Shanahan, Nathan Doak, Billy Burns, Jake Flannery, Jude Postlethwaite, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Stewart Moore, Mike Lowry, Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, Will Addison.

No Stockdale or O'Connor due to nappy changing commitments.

Sharks game winnable, Stormers not so much unless the Murphy factor has an instant hit. It won't of course but it's a great chance for Ritchie to get to know the squad in an enclosed environment.

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