Ulster are reportedly closing in a replacement for All Black Charles Piutau in what could be a major fillip for the club after a tumultuous season on and off the pitch.
Piutau become rugby’s highest player when he was signed by the Bristol Bears on a salary reported to be in the region of £1,000,000 per annum, a fee that puts him ahead of Dan Carter following his move to Japan post Racing.
The loss of Piutau is also not the only back three player that Ulster will have to do without this season. Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble both called time on their careers this season, while Jared Payne has been forced to retire due to concussion, and has taken up a coaching role.
This has left Ulster effectively down four back three players.
While the addition of former Sale Shark Will Adison has filled the berth left by Stuart Olding; and this week’s signing of Billy Burns from Gloucester has replaced the slot left by Paddy Jackson, the back three is an area where the province lack significant depth.
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Now the club appear to have at least one high level replacement in their sights. The Australian Telegraph are reporting that Ulster are now courting Wallaby international Henry Speight.
The paper report that Speight would sign on a short-term deal similiar to the one that Christian Lealiifano took up with the province last season before returning to the Brumbies.
A proud Fijian, Speight was a star at Sevens where his electric pace, step and bravado caught the imagination of the rugby public.
He made his Brumbies debut in 2001 against the Chiefs and was an instant hit with the Brumbies crowd having made the move to the Nation’s Capital after attending High School in New Zealand.
In the wake of the Burns’ rush signing, Speight could be another piece of positive news for the club.
Despite being capped by England at U18 and U20 level, Burns approached the Gloucester to ask to be released from his contract to join Ulster Rugby and pursue his international ambitions with Ireland, a move Gloucester Rugby agreed to.
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