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Ulster 'very happy' with securing new head coach

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Ulster rugby's operations director Bryn Cunningham. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Ulster rugby's operations director Bryn Cunningham. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Ulster rugby's operations director Bryn Cunningham. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Ulster have confirmed that they have signed a new head coach, who the club insist was their number-one candidate throughout a lengthy recruitment process.

His identity remains unconfirmed, however, and it will be another "few weeks" before a statement is released.

Ulster are adamant that it is not someone who has already been linked with the job, which would rule out Andy Friend, Glenn Moore and Jim Mallinder.

It is understood that the new boss is currently working as a forwards coach in Europe.

The fact that an announcement is still a few weeks away would also suggest that the new coach is currently working in Europe and not Super Rugby, where the campaign is only nine games old.

"We have the coach lined up, signed and agreed, our number one candidate, so we're obviously very happy within Ulster and the IRFU," operations director Bryn Cunningham said.

"I think whenever you go into the market, you are looking at two things. You are not just looking at coaches who are available and on the market.

Clause

"You are looking at coaches who are maybe in contract and have an out clause and are ready to move on, so we tried to keep the net as wide as possible."

Despite Johnny McPhillips' assured performance during Ulster's 24-24 draw with Munster, it appears that the club are very much in the market for an experienced out-half.

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With regard to Joey Carbery or Ross Byrne moving north, Cunningham explained: "At the moment the IRFU are working in that area with Leinster around that 10 scenario.

"They have looked at it and decided there are guys there, who are probably the top three of the four 10s in Irish rugby. They have looked at it and said it might be more beneficial if one of them was playing elsewhere.

"But it's not really for us to initiate that conversation. We have to respect that the players may be in a different place and may want to stay where they are.

"For us it's about if a player shows a genuine interest and is very keen and wants to speak to the province, we would come to the fore and try to convince him that Ulster is a good place to come."

Johann van Graan refused to rule out the possibility of signing a new out-half of his own.

The Munster boss insisted that Tyler Bleyendaal, who has undergone a second neck surgery, is due back for pre-season, and he hopes he will "make a full recovery".

Van Graan also confirmed that Gerbrandt Grobler will leave the province when his contract expires this summer. The controversial South African lock's next destination is Gloucester.


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