Friday 24 March 2017

Humphreys faces fitness race ahead of Dragons tie

Humphreys: Injury concern
Humphreys: Injury concern

Ulster fly-half Ian Humphreys is a major doubt for their Magners League clash against the Dragons on March 18 due to injury.

The in-form Humphreys tweaked a hamstring in training last Tuesday and missed last Friday's victory over Italian side Aironi.

He was in a lot of pain as he was leaving training although the injury was not as bad as first feared. However, despite having daily physiotherapy, there is still a big question mark over his availability for the rearranged game against the Welsh side.

Meanwhile, Ulster have signed Irish Sevens star and Connacht back-row forward Michael McComish and former Ireland age-group prop Callum Black for next season. The 28-year-old Belfast-born McComish was part of the Ulster U-21 set-up under current senior coach Brian McLaughlin.

McComish played for Rotherham and Otley before being snapped up by Connacht, where he has spent the last two seasons.

USA-born Black is contracted to Championship side Worcester Warriors and has had loan spells with Plymouth and Otley. He is Irish qualified through his paternal grandfather, who hailed from Belfast. However, McLaughlin is losing back-row forward TJ Anderson, who is joining Connacht on a two-year deal.

The 24-year-old has played 18 times for the Ulster senior team and was part of the Ireland U-20 side that won the Grand Slam in 2007. Eric Elwood's side have also secured Brett Wilkinson on a contract extension until 2013.

The South African-born prop made his 100th senior appearance for the province in October and has played for the Ireland Wolfhounds.

Elsewhere, Toulon continued their star-studded recruitment drive by signing South Africa lock Bakkies Botha for the next three seasons from the Blue Bulls.

The French club, eighth in the Top 14, already boast England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson and last month drafted in Wales back Gavin Henson on a short-term deal.

Australia fly-half Matt Giteau will also join after the World Cup as rich French sides sweep up the world's top rugby talent.

Irish Independent

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