Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has confirmed Ian Henderson as club captain for the 2019/20 season, replacing the retiring Rory Best.
27-year-old Henderson is currently in Ireland’s training squad ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019, has represented his home Province on 105 occasions.
“I’m incredibly proud and excited to be appointed as Club Captain” explained Henderson. “I had a good chat with Dan and I think we’re closely aligned in terms of how we see Ulster moving forward.”
“I’ve got massive boots to fill with Rory outgoing, but it’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to” added Henderson.
“When I’ve captained Ulster on previous occasions, it’s been made a lot easier because of the presence of a number of great leaders around me.”
“It really helps when you’ve got people like Al (O’Connor), Rob (Herring) and Marcell (Coetzee) behind you, who understand what you’re doing and provide unbelievable support.”
“Our squad has a very low age profile and one of the most exciting things for me is seeing the hunger within the group and the players’ desire to improve” added Henderson.
“We also have the likes of Jack (McGrath), Sam (Carter) and Matt (Faddes) coming in, who will add significant additional experience, so I think we’ve got a lot to be excited about going into the new season.”
Henderson started his rugby journey at Academy RFC, before continuing his development at Belfast Royal Academy.
His talent was further nurtured in the Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy and he played club rugby for Queen’s University RFC and Ballynahinch RFC.
The versatile forward represented Ulster and Ireland at various age grade levels on route to making his senior provincial debut in April 2012, against Connacht.
Henderson has since become a key figure for Ulster and Ireland, winning 44 caps for the latter. He played in four of Ireland’s games during the 6 Nations Grand Slam success of 2018, while he also featured in 2014 and 2015 Championship wins.
His excellent form at club and international level was rewarded with a call up to the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017.
“Iain has a deep love for his Province” declared Ulster Head Coach, Dan McFarland. “He understands exactly what it means to wear the Ulster jersey and this rubs off on those around him.”
“As a leader, he has demonstrated his ability to command respect through his professionalism and talismanic play.”
“Asking Iain to be captain was not a difficult decision and because he is surrounded by a squad of good men, I know that he will flourish.”