Ulster Rugby have announced a senior playing squad of 44 players for the 2019 season.
Of the 44 players named in the panel, 41 are Irish-qualified and 27 have progressed through Ulster’s player development pathway.
Nine players who started the 2018/19 season in the Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy have signed upgraded contracts ahead of the new season.
They will be joined by six new faces; Jack McGrath, Sam Carter, Matt Faddes, Gareth Milasinovich, Bill Johnston and David O’Connor (brother of current second row, Alan).
“Having a large number of indigenous young players in the squad is incredibly important for the future of Ulster Rugby” declared Ulster head coach Dan McFarland.
“Kieran Campbell and his staff in the Academy deserve a lot of credit for their work in bringing through the next generation of talent to the senior squad, which was so evident last season.”
“Our clubs and schools also play a huge part in the development pathway of our young players, providing the basis for crucial early technical and motivational growth.”
“It is important that we retain the best of our home-grown talent, many of whom receive attractive offers from other clubs, and we have managed to do that once again with some key re-signings” added McFarland.
“Combined with this core group of Ulster men is the vital input of our overseas players.”
“Having players like Marcell Coetzee in the group has delivered tangible benefits both on and off the field, and I’m confident that Sam Carter and Matt Faddes will also have big impacts.”
“We will also welcome the experience and quality of Jack McGrath, and the potential of Gareth Milasinovich, Bill Johnston and David O’Connor into the squad, and I’m looking forward to working with them all.
“The squad is developing nicely. We need to have quality throughout the squad; sometimes that’s down to recruitment, a lot of the time it’s down to bringing the young guys through.”
“Getting a healthy mixture of the two is really important” added McFarland.
The majority of the squad will commence pre-season training on Monday 1st July.
Ulster Rugby 2019/20 squad
Players developed through the Abbey Insurance Academy or Ulster club system are marked with * and Development players are in italics.