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New overseas out-half on the way for Ulster but Bowe injured

Les Kiss says the northern province have secured a new playmaker to replace Christian Lealiifano.

ULSTER DIRECTOR OF rugby Less Kiss says the province have signed an overseas out-half to replace Christian Lealiifano, with an official announcement set to follow.

Wallabies international Lealiifano joined the province from the Brumbies in August but his short-term deal expires after this month’s Champions Cup fixtures against La Rochelle and Wasps.

Christian Lealiifano with Fergus McFadden Lealiifano will leave after this month's Champions Cup fixtures. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

With Paddy Jackson unavailable, there have been concerns about the state of Ulster’s out-half options after Lealiifano’s return to Australia, but Kiss says a new arrival is on the way.

“We have got a new person to replace Christian and we will announce that in due course,” said the Ulster boss after last night’s 38-7 defeat to Leinster at the RDS. “It’s an overseas player and all that has been cleared, so no problems.

“Christian has two more games, and he’s done a really good job. There’s no doubting what he’s done for Pete Nelson, Brett Herron and Johnny McPhillips, who had a good impact [against Leinster].

“He’s been a good influence on those young guys. We’ve said all along that we want someone in there with a bit of experience and that’ll be announced in due course.”

Confirmation of a new signing is likely to be welcomed by Ulster supporters but it won’t go too far in raising their spirits after a resounding defeat to Leinster last night in which Kiss’ side conceded six tries.

Adding to the sense of dejection was an injury to 33-year-old Tommy Bowe, who came off the bench for the Ulstermen. Kiss explained that the outlook is not good and Bowe may even be ruled out for two months.

“It looks like it’s around the sternum but we’re doing more tests,” said Kiss. “The doc said weeks, so that could be anything getting up to eight. That’s a shame for him.”

Les Kiss Kiss is hoping for a response against La Rochelle. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Ulster’s dire performance at the RDS won’t give their fanbase too much confidence ahead of the visit of La Rochelle in the Champions Cup next weekend, with the French side having torn the northern province apart in their first tie back in October.

But Kiss doesn’t believe that the margin of Leinster’s victory last night was a reflection of a major gulf in quality.

“I don’t think they’re that much better than us,” said Kiss. “It’s a reflection of the inconsistency that we showed that gave the opposition a chance to hurt us. We defended well for periods but then they turn us over and have scored three phases later.

“It’s a spiral. It’s not ideal and it’s hurting us. To be that inconsistent, it’s not ideal, that’s for sure. That’s the nature of what we’re looking at at the minute. That inconsistency, we don’t have a constant dependable style of rugby that we can rely on.

“We have a chance next week to respond.”

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Murray Kinsella

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