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“…They Decided That They Want To Stay Where They Are” – Ulster Still Searching For Paddy Jackson Replacement

Ulster have had a rollercoaster season both on and off the field but they can finish their season on a high by qualifying for next season’s Champions Cup.

The northern province will likely face the Ospreys in a playoff fixture for the final Champions Cup spot on the weekend 18/19/20 May but they may qualify regardless if Leinster win the Champions Cup and Gloucester and Pau qualify via their final respective league position.

For next season, it’s all about rebuilding. Ulster have stated that they already have agreed terms with their new head coach but they will announce that in due course. Another big problem they will need to solve is that of signing an out-half for next season.

The possibility of Joey Carbery or Ross Byrne moving north seems to be a non-runner with both players expressing their desires to remain with Leo Cullen’s side as Ulster’s Operations Director Bryn Cunningham confirmed after Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Munster at Thomond Park.

“In something like that it’s very much just a decision that’s taken from the player whenever the IRFU has got involved in it,” Cunningham told The42. “They have looked at it and decided that those guys are probably in the top three or four 10s in Irish rugby.

Ulster Rugby Press Conference 25/11/2014
New Ulster team manager Bryn Cunningham
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Presseye/Matt Mackey

“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 go in and initiate that conversation. We have to respect that the players may be in a different place.

“And they decided that they want to stay where they are. For us, it’s more about if a player shows a genuine interest and the player is very keen and the player then wants to speak to the province.

“That’s whenever we would come to the fore and try and convince him that Ulster is a good place to come.”

Ulster are open to the possibility of bringing in an NIQ out-half with England’s Danny Cipriani a player who has been linked with the club due to him leaving Wasps at the end of the season and Cunningham confirmed that the province “are looking at everything” in terms of their search for new players.

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email or on Twitter