The Runner Sports

Ulster Sign John Cooney From Connacht

After receiving the unfortunate news earlier this season that the IRFU would not allow Ulster re-sign their stalwart scrumhalf, Ruan Pienaar, something of a crisis developed at Ulster. With fears from fans over who would take the reigns at the start of the 2017/18 season, their questions have now been answered.

Today Ulster has announced in a press release that 26-year-old John Cooney will be joining their squad from Connacht at the end of the season. Cooney will join Ulster on a two-year deal, making Ulster his third Irish province after starting his career at Leinster, earning 27 caps between 2011 and 2014.

Cooney earned 30 caps with Connacht, but could have made more had his tenure there not been stricken with injury. The scrumhalf only returned to play a month ago after sustaining a shoulder injury during the PRO12 final in Murrayfield last year. Since then, Cooney has played in great form for Connacht, even slotting into outhalf against Zebre in the Champions Cup.

As well as being a good scrumhalf, Cooney is also an excellent place kicker, which will be a sore loss to Connacht where he is undoubtedly one of the best kickers in their squad.

His kicking ability aside, Cooney may not be all that big a loss to Connacht, surprisingly. Their ability to field quality scrumhalfs is one of the only areas they have not found themselves lacking over the past few weeks, with both Kieran Marmion and Caolin Blade never failing to impress.

In a bid to quell their problems in their pack, Ulster have also signed Arno Botha from the Bulls of Super Rugby. Botha can play at both flanker and number eight. Botha also has two caps for the Springboks, but was not called back into the team after suffering a knee injury four minutes into his second test.