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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 13 November, 2018
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Ireland forwards coach Easterby to provide support for Ulster before head coach arrival

Hope remains that Dan McFarland will leave Scotland before January, but Easterby will work with the province’s young coaches on an interim basis.

Easterby and Best lead the squad to an open training session at Kingspan Stadium in 2015.
Easterby and Best lead the squad to an open training session at Kingspan Stadium in 2015.
Image: Presseye/Russell Pritchard/INPHO

IRELAND FORWARDS COACH Simon Easterby will fill a temporary vacancy in Ulster’s back-room team, the province and IRFU announced this morning.

As things stand incoming head coach Dan McFarland is still constrained by a nine-month notice period stipulated by the Scottish Rugby Union, who have signalled their intent to play hardball with Ulster’s hopes of releasing their forwards coach before January.

It’s understood that this contingency measure was mooted even before McFarland’s appointment. After director of rugby Les Kiss was sacked midway through last season and Jono Gibbes departed for the Top14, Ulster have a youthful look to their coaching booth with Jared Payne, Aaron Dundon and Dwayne Peel in situ.

Ulster returned to pre-season training last week and the arrival of Easterby’s “coaching support” will boost their ability to prepare and plan for the season ahead.

The hope remains that McFarland’s will take charge at the Kingspan before 2019, but if the issue cannot be resolved then Easterby will work with Ulster until the arrival of the ex-Connacht forwards coach.

Easterby, who capped off a successful international season for his pack 10 days ago with a series win in Australia, begins work with the northern province this week.

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Sean Farrell

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