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'Jonny's homecoming is exciting': Bell swaps Worcester for Ulster

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Former Ireland midfielder Jonny Bell is the latest to signal his intention to move on from Steve Diamond’s Worcester, the defence coach agreeing to a three-year deal to take over as an assistant at Ulster from the soon-to-depart Jared Payne. Bell had previously worked at the province as an assistant between 2011 and 2015 before joining David Humphreys at Gloucester. 

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After five years at Kingsholm, he became the Glasgow attack coach for the 2020/21 season before switching back to the Gallagher Premiership last summer to join Jonathan Thomas’ Worcester. Ex-Wales back-rower Thomas left the Warriors in January with Diamond, who had arrived as lead rugby consultant in late November, assuming control and he will become director of rugby in the summer when Alan Solomons finishes up. 

Bell said: “I’m really excited to be going back to Ulster where it began for me all those years ago. Ulster are a top-class team, extremely well-coached, and with an exciting crop of young and experienced players.

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“They are competing consistently at the business end of domestic and European competitions. I’m thrilled to be working with Dan McFarland and his coaching team and look forward to adding my knowledge and experience to an already driven and dynamic group.”

Ulster head coach McFarland added: “Jonny’s homecoming to the province is an exciting prospect. Defence has been at the forefront of his game, both as a player and as a coach, and he has a wealth of coaching experience that will be hugely valuable to us. I know he will fit in well with our strong group of coaches, and we look forward to welcoming him back into the fold.” 

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Ulster have also struck a deal to keep ex-All Blacks back-rower Craig Newby on as skills coach for a further two years. He joined last year on a one-year deal from his director of rugby role at St John’s in Leatherhead. 

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“It is also great that Craig has bought into what we are building on as a club, and has agreed to extend his time with us,” continued McFarland. “He has integrated seamlessly into our coaching team, and has already done an impressive job of further developing the skills of our senior and academy players.”

Newby said: “My time at Ulster has been nothing but fantastic and when Dan and the club offered me an opportunity to stay on and continue to do what I love, it was a no-brainer to say yes. I’ve enjoyed the challenge from day one and learnt an extraordinary amount about my coaching from the players, the coaches, and the games.”

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