| 19°C Dublin

Muller vows to help young talent flourish after signing new Ulster deal

Ulster's Springbok second-row Johann Muller has said he is delighted to have extended his stay by a year and wants to continue the development of young talent at the province before his contract is completed at the end of the 2012/13 season.

The former South Africa captain, who turns 31 on June 1, signed last summer on a two-year deal and has been a notable success in Ulster's best season since 1999, as Brian McLaughlin's side qualified for the knock-out stages of the Magners League and Heineken Cup.

He played 26 competitive games over the season, comprising 2027 minutes of pitch time, sharing the leadership duties with hooker Rory Best. Muller has not been capped for the Springboks since the third Test against the Lions in 2009 and is happy to commit his future to Ulster.

"I'm delighted to extend my contract with Ulster by another year," said Muller. "I've really enjoyed my first season with Ulster, not only in terms of rugby but also personally. The people have been great to me and my family so staying an extra year wasn't a decision we had to think about for long.

"We're taking steps in the right direction but the players and the coaching staff need to keep working hard for next season.


"Teams are judged on silverware and we have nothing to show for our season. We are determined to win something for the trophy cabinet next season and to do that we must keep improving.

"I've been in the fantastic position of having a leadership role and hope I can keep trying to help the younger players and they keep improving. The more games they play and the more experience they get will be of benefit to themselves and Ulster. If, in a couple of years I leave Ulster and have managed to help a few players develop, I will be delighted."

Meanwhile, Ian Costello is to take over as Munster 'A' coach as well as taking on skills coach duties for the senior and Academy squads. The UL Bohemians man takes over the 'A' team from Anthony Foley, who has been appointed forwards coach next season, with Laurie Fisher leaving the province at the end of the season.

With a week and a half to go until their Magners League Grand Final against Heineken Cup finalists Leinster, Munster report a clean bill of health after last weekend's semi-final victory over the Ospreys.

Denis Leamy was given the all-clear earlier in the week after taking a blow to the head against the Welsh outfit while Ian Nagle and Declan Cusack -- who both missed the Munster Development side's 21-17 defeat to the Ireland U-20s at the weekend -- are expected to train this week.

Irish Independent