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Dublin: 16 °C Friday 3 July, 2020

Ulster add former Leinster academy second row to squad for next season

David O’Connor joins his older brother Alan at Kingspan Stadium.

ULSTER HEAD COACH Dan McFarland has today finalised his senior playing squad ahead of the 2019/20 season, with former Leinster academy second row David O’Connor the final addition to the ranks.

O’Connor, who left his native province in 2017 to ‘pursue other opportunities’, is one of six new arrivals at Kingspan Stadium ahead of the new season, joining Jack McGrath, Sam Carter, Matt Faddes, Gareth Milasinovich and Bill Johnston.

David O'Connor O'Connor is an Ireland underage international. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The former Blackrock College man is the younger brother of Ulster second row Alan.

O’Connor joins the northern province on a development contract having played with Lansdowne in the All-Ireland League and will add depth to McFarland’s second row and back row resources, particularly during the World Cup period.

McFarland has named a 44-man senior panel ahead of next season, 41 of whom are Irish-qualified, while 27 have progressed through the province’s player development pathway.

Nine of those included have moved up to the senior ranks from the Ulster academy, including Robert Baloucoune, Angus Kernohan and Michael Lowry. 

It had already been confirmed that Ireland prop McGrath was joining from Leinster and Carter and Faddes were arriving from the Brumbies and Highlanders respectively.

Out-half Johnston makes the move north from Munster, while Milasinovich is another front-row recruit from Worcester Warriors.

“Having a large number of indigenous young players in the squad is incredibly important for the future of Ulster Rugby,” McFarland said.

“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.

Bill Johnston Johnston joins from Munster. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“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 majority of the Ulster squad will return to pre-season training in Belfast on 1 July.

It has yet to be confirmed who will captain Ulster next season following the retirement of Rory Best. 

Ulster squad 2019/20: Will Addison, John Andrew, Robert Baloucoune, Billy Burns, Sam Carter, Marcell Coetzee, John Cooney, Angus Curtis, Matt Faddes, Craig Gilroy, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, James Hume, Bill Johnston, Greg Jones, Ross Kane, Angus KernohanMichael Lowry, Louis Ludik, Rob Lyttle, Luke Marshall, Adam McBurney, Kyle McCall, Zack McCall, Stuart McCloskey, Jack McGrath, Gareth Milasinovic, Marty Moore, Jordi Murphy, Alan O’Connor, David O’Connor, Tommy O’Hagan, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Marcus Rea, Matty Rea, Sean Reidy, Clive Ross, David Shanahan, Jonny Stewart, Jacob Stockdale, Nick Timoney, Kieran Treadwell, Andrew Warwick.

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Ryan Bailey

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