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Ulster prop Afoa confirms Premiership switch

“When I finish my career, I will reflect on my time at Ravenhill with a lot of pride.”

Afoa: has signed a long-term deal with a Premiership club.
Afoa: has signed a long-term deal with a Premiership club.
Image: INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd

ULSTER’S ALL BLACK tight-head prop John Afoa will not be renewing his deal with the northern province.

The 30-year-old could win his 50th cap for Ulster before Christmas, but today the province confirmed that he would instead be plying his trade with an unnamed English Premiership side next season.

Afoa is the second front-line Ulster prop to take up an offer in England next season after Tom Court decided to end his (much longer) stint in Ireland. The Kiwi’s departure will heap more emphasis and opportunity for Ireland international tight-head Declan Fitzpatrick next season.

“It is good to have my long-term future sorted out,” Afoa said in today’s statement from the northern province.

“However I still have a lot of rugby to play with Ulster. I have six months remaining on my contract with the province and I am focused on helping the guys win something this season.

“When I finish my career, I will reflect on my time at Ravenhill with a lot of pride.”

Director of Rugby David Humphreys commended Afoa on his ‘professionalism’ in trying to balance the responsibility of a young family in New Zealand with his day job in Belfast, but also highlighted the knowledge and skill he was able to impart on the front row players aspiring to be his successor.

“John has made a fantastic contribution to Ulster Rugby in the two years that he has been here,” Humphreys said.

“He has been excellent for us on the pitch but has also been great for us off it, working along with Allen Clarke to develop the next generation of props for Ulster and Ireland.”

– First published 18.36

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Sean Farrell

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