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Ulster pick RDS as their home venue for Pro12 final

ULSTER have nominated the RDS as their 'home venue' for the Pro12 final should they finish top of the table and then win their semi-final.

Regulations require that the May 25 showpiece be staged at a venue with a capacity of 18,000 or more and the ongoing redevelopment at Ravenhill means the province's Belfast home cannot be used if the northerners earn a home final.

As it stands, top side Ulster and second-placed Leinster would have home advantage in the semi-finals and, if Ulster were to be beaten and Leinster progressed, they would host the final. If Ulster and Leinster both win, then it would be at the RDS too.

Ulster currently sit on 71 points with two games remaining, three clear of Leinster, with Glasgow a point behind.

However, home advantage has not helped Leinster in recent years as they suffered heartache against the Ospreys in Ballsbridge last season and in 2010.

"Our primary focus is to have the two new stands open to welcome our loyal supporters at the start of the 2013/14 season," Ulster chief executive Shane Logan said in a club statement.

"Therefore, in agreement with Celtic Rugby, we have nominated the RDS, with its capacity of 18,500, as the venue for a final involving Ulster as host club. If Ulster do make it to the final, I have no doubt that the RDS will be a fantastic location for the game and I hope that our supporters will travel there in huge numbers to back the team."

Meanwhile, Ulster will not be adding to their squad for next season and remain hopeful of retaining former All Black John Afoa (above).

The tighthead prop has another year to run on his contract, but he has returned home to New Zealand on several occasions, most recently for the birth of his third child.

But the Ulster chief executive believes that the squad next season will be the same one that topped the province's Heineken Cup pool and currently sits on top of the Pro12.

"All our players are contracted into next season and so, no, we won't be bringing in anybody new," said Logan.

"Our policy with our five non-Irish eligible players is to have guys who are both box office on the pitch and off the pitch.

"But there will be nothing new in terms of players next season.

"We'll be concentrating on having all our guys fit, which, for a third of this season, has been a real struggle for us."

Irish Independent