OUT-HALF IAN Humphreys has, for the second time in his career, re-signed with his native province of Ulster.
The 32-year-old has agreed to a two-year contract as a second spell in England is coming to a premature end, two years before his current London Irish deal is set to expire.
Having left the province as first choice number 10, the academy product returns with Paddy Jackson an international and a senior figure (in deed if not in age) in the northern province’s back-line. The ex-Leicester and London Irish playmaker, however, is keen to provide stiff competition to his successor.
“I am realistic,” Humphreys said in a statement today, “I know that Paddy Jackson is one of the best young players in Ireland, but I am competitive. It is up to me to push him and hopefully that will bring out the best in both of us.”
He added: “I have loved my time at London Irish but when the unexpected opportunity to come home arose, it was a very easy decision to make. My wife and I are very much family people and we enjoy being in Northern Ireland.
“It is exciting to be coming back to Ulster, to be part of a squad that is challenging in Europe and that is at the top of the RaboDirect Pro12 every year. As well as a strong team, Ravenhill has been transformed since I left two years ago.
“Everyone in the Premiership has heard about it and seen pictures of the new facilities. It is just phenomenal how good the new stadium is.”
Of course, Humphreys’ older brother David is a key figure at the province as a Director of Rugby, but he made it clear that his brother’s role will become most important when Jackson is called into international duty.
“He has learned a great deal in the past two seasons working with coaches like Brian Smith and Shaun Edwards and that knowledge can only benefit the young players we have coming through.
“With Paddy Jackson playing an increasingly important role with Ireland, Ian gives us another option at outhalf, something which is highly important if the team is going to be successful in the future.
“I am delighted that he has rejoined Ulster.”