Friday 23 March 2018

Fly-half Ian Humphreys moves from Heineken Cup finalists Ulster to London Irish

Andrew Baldock

London Irish have confirmed the signing of fly-half Ian Humphreys from this season's Heineken Cup finalists Ulster.

Humphreys, who played for Leicester before joining Ulster in 2008, has agreed a three-year deal with the Exiles.

He will join Irish in time for pre-season training, although his immediate priority is the May 19 Heineken final between Ulster and Leinster at Twickenham.

Humphreys has represented Ireland at under-19, under-21 and A levels, and also captained his country in the 2005 Rugby World Cup sevens tournament.

Irish rugby director Brian Smith said: "It is fantastic to have Ian on board for the next three seasons. He will bring with him a wealth of experience and leadership qualities.

"He is a constant threat with ball in hand and has a great ability to create space for his outside backs. He also has a fantastic kicking game.

"When I was previously at the club we tried to recruit Ian and Tomas O'Leary, and now we have a pair of Irish half-backs as good as any in Europe."

Humphreys, 30, and O'Leary are among a clutch of new signings for next term that also includes Catalan Dragons rugby league star Setamaita Sa, Leicester lock George Skivington and Gloucester hooker Scott Lawson.

Humphreys said: "I am very excited to be joining London Irish.

"They play an attractive style of rugby that I am looking forward to being involved in. My immediate focus, however, is with Ulster as we prepare for the Heineken Cup final."

Ulster head coach Brian McLaughlin paid tribute to Humphreys.

"Ian has been an excellent servant since he returned to play in the province four years ago, and his performances have contributed to Ulster enjoying one of the most successful periods in their recent history," McLaughlin said.

"The squad depth has improved considerably in the time that Ian has been with us, and we are fortunate to have a number of contenders for the number 10 shirt.

"Paddy Jackson is a prodigious talent who has played very well this season, while Stuart Olding and Ruan Pienaar are also options for us.

"I am keen to stress that the job is not yet finished for Ian, and he is still very much in contention to play in the Heineken Cup final.

"There would be no better way for Ian to finish his Ulster career than with a Heineken Cup winner's medal."

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