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Werner Kok to become the first Ulster signing for 2024/25

By Neil Fissler
Werner Kok in his sevens days with South Africa (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)

Ulster are poised to confirm that they have made ex-Springboks sevens star Werner Kok their first signing for next season when his contract with the Sharks in Durban runs out later this year.

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Fissler Confidential reported a couple of weeks ago that Kok, the 31-year-old who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, was in advanced discussions with Ulster about a move to Belfast.

Kok made over 280 appearances for the Springboks sevens and operates on the wing and outside centre in 15s, which he has specialised in since 2020. If he is fit, he is seen as a consistent week in, week out performer.

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Joel Kpoku on his move to PAU

Lyon forward Joel Kpoku discusses his signing with French Top 14 side PAU

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Joel Kpoku on his move to PAU

Lyon forward Joel Kpoku discusses his signing with French Top 14 side PAU

Having also played for Western Province in South Africa and Toulouse in France, he has scored five tries in 12 appearances for the Durban-based Sharks this season. However, he is set to follow Sale Sharks-bound Le Roux Roets out of the club when the season is over.

John Plumtree’s Sharks are bottom of the URC table with only one win and 10 defeats in the league. They are busy remodelling their squad for next season by bringing in Trevor Nyakane, Jason Jenkins, Emmanuel Tshituka, Jordan Hendrikse and Andre Esterhuizen.

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That remodel left Kok, who was earning £160,000 a year, surplus to requirements and his signing will be welcomed by Ulster, who are undergoing major cost-cutting after announcing £900,000 losses last year and recently jettisoning Dan McFarland, who will be replaced by Richie Murphy, the Ireland U20s.

The Irish province will lose several players – including Billy Burns to Munster and Will Addison, who has been speaking to his former club Sale Sharks after being left free to leave Ravenhill.

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Some hours after RugbyPass published its story on Wednesday morning, Ulster confirmed that Kok was indeed joining them on a two-year deal. Bryn Cunningham, their head of rugby operations and recruitment said: “Werner will add something different to our group with his vast experience across the sevens game and 15s, where he has showcased his exciting brand of rugby.

“He will fit in well with the talented backs in the squad, as we look to develop our options in the backfield. Werner’s competitiveness and tenacity in both an attacking sense and defensively will fit right in with the energy we want this team to play with.”

Kok added: “I’m looking forward to starting a new adventure in my career with Ulster and can’t wait. I want to thank Ulster and the team for this incredible opportunity.  I hope to make you proud on and off the field.

“Moving from South Africa will be a big change for me and my wife but it’s a challenge that we are very excited for. See you soon Belfast!”

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D
Diarmid 9 hours ago
Players and referees must cut out worrying trend in rugby – Andy Goode

The guy had just beasted himself in a scrum and the blood hadn't yet returned to his head when he was pushed into a team mate. He took his weight off his left foot precisely at the moment he was shoved and dropped to the floor when seemingly trying to avoid stepping on Hyron Andrews’ foot. I don't think he was trying to milk a penalty, I think he was knackered but still switched on enough to avoid planting 120kgs on the dorsum of his second row’s foot. To effectively “police” such incidents with a (noble) view to eradicating play acting in rugby, yet more video would need to be reviewed in real time, which is not in the interest of the game as a sporting spectacle. I would far rather see Farrell penalised for interfering with the refereeing of the game. Perhaps he was right to be frustrated, he was much closer to the action than the only camera angle I've seen, however his vocal objection to Rodd’s falling over doesn't legitimately fall into the captain's role as the mouthpiece of his team - he should have kept his frustration to himself, that's one of the pillars of rugby union. I appreciate that he was within his rights to communicate with the referee as captain but he didn't do this, he moaned and attempted to sway the decision by directing his complaint to the player rather than the ref. Rugby needs to look closely at the message it wants to send to young players and amateur grassroots rugby. The best way to do this would be to apply the laws as they are written and edit them where the written laws no longer apply. If this means deleting laws such as ‘the put in to the scrum must be straight”, so be it. Likewise, if it is no longer necessary to respect the referee’s decision without questioning it or pre-emptively attempting to sway it (including by diving or by shouting and gesticulating) then this behaviour should be embraced (and commercialised). Otherwise any reference to respecting the referee should be deleted from the laws. You have to start somewhere to maintain the values of rugby and the best place to start would be giving a penalty and a warning against the offending player, followed by a yellow card the next time. People like Farrell would rapidly learn to keep quiet and let their skills do the talking.

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