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Ian Madigan signs one-year deal with Ulster after stint at Bristol Bears

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Ian Madigan in action for Bristol. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Ian Madigan in action for Bristol. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Ian Madigan in action for Bristol. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Ulster have secured the signature of fly-half Ian Madigan after a three-year stint at Bristol Bears.

The former Leinster man, who will turn 31 next week and can also play inside centre, left the RDS for Bordeaux-Begles in the summer of 2016, spending one lucrative year in the Top14 before signing on at Ashton Gate.

Ulster have today announced a one-year deal for the fly-half, starting from next season.

A key figure in his side's promotion campaign, he has fallen down the pecking order under former Connacht boss Pat Lam at the Premiership side and has saw his playing time limited this season by the emergence of Callum Sheedy.

Ulster have deployed Billy Burns as their primary number ten option since the 25-year-old arrived from Gloucester in the summer of 2018 but, while still uncapped, he has been involved in national squads since the turn of the year and could miss significant chunks of next season if he remains in Andy Farrell's plans.

In his absence, summer signing Bill Johnston had impressed following a shaky start to his Ulster career while the versatile young duo of Mike Lowry and Angus Curtis are also able to play fly-half.

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Ian Madigan in action for Ireland during the Six Nations Rugby Championship clash with Italy back in March 2016. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Ian Madigan in action for Ireland during the Six Nations Rugby Championship clash with Italy back in March 2016. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Ian Madigan in action for Ireland during the Six Nations Rugby Championship clash with Italy back in March 2016. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Well known to former Leinster team-mates already at Kingspan Stadium like John Cooney, Jordi Murphy, Jack McGrath and Marty Moore, Madigan will give Dan McFarland an added experienced option.

An Ulster statement read: "Ulster Rugby can today formally announce the signing of Ireland fly-half, Ian Madigan, who will join the province in the summer after agreeing terms last month.

"The 30-year old, who joins the club on a one-year-deal, brings with him a superb range of experience gained from time spent at clubs including Leinster, Bordeaux Bègles – and most recently a three-year stint with Bristol Bears.

"Madigan, who has represented his country on 30 occasions, played a part in Ireland securing the Six Nations title in 2014, and retaining it the following year.

"He featured in all of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup games in 2015, including a standout performance in the match which saw Ireland defeat France."

Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said: "It's great news that Ian has chosen to make the move to Ulster for the upcoming season.

"Given Ian's skillset, and the fit it can have with our style of play, I'm confident he will be a valuable addition to our squad both on and off the pitch, where he will bring a bank of experience to a group of talented young out-halves.

"I look forward to welcoming him to our province."

Madigan told Independent.ie's Left Wing podcast earlier this year: "My contract is up in Bristol at the end of the season'

"I'm going through that process at the moment and maybe potentially looking at coming back home, all the Irish provinces are going as strong as ever and you would love to be involved there again, but you just have to wait and see.

"I'd be open to playing at any of the provinces, be that Leinster, Munster, Connacht or Ulster. There are great things going on with Andy Friend in Connacht and Dan McFarland in Ulster.

"Munster and Leinster are strong as ever, it would be a joy to play with any of the provinces."

Belfast Telegraph