Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


Ulster tie down Baloucoune and O'Connor in new contract flurry

Ulster have handed out new two-year contracts with four squad members.  Winger Robert Baloucoune...

Ulster have handed out new two-year contracts with four squad members. 

Winger Robert Baloucoune, lock Alan O'Connor, centre Luke Marshall and versatile back Aaron Sexton will all stay with the province until 2023.

Baloucoune is currently on the shelf with a hamstring injury, but is nearing a return.

Prior to his surgery, he'd earned international recognition with a call-up to Andy Farrell's development squad.

"Rob has been in sensational form for us," head coach Dan McFarland said, "And has proven himself to be a prolific try-scorer as well as a superb defender.

"He’s been unlucky with injury this season, but he is not far off making his return which we’re all looking forward to."

McFarland's also hailed O'Connor as a "vital member" of the squad who "epitomises the competitiveness and bite we expect".

The 28-year old second row recently captained Ulster in their Guinness PRO14 win at Connacht.

"I feel we are building towards something special – especially with such an exciting young squad," Marshall said after putting pen-to-paper on his new deal.

He added, "It is a privilege to continue to represent my home province – and since my wife gave birth to our son three months ago, I am hopeful that he will be able to come and watch me play at Kingspan Stadium in the next couple of years."

Marshall's made 144 appearances for the province so far, with McFarland saying, "Luke is one of our longest-serving players and brings an excellent ability to read the game and organise defences."

Completing the list of signees is 20-year old Sexton.

He'll spend one year as a development player, before graduating to senior professional terms in 2022-23.

McFarland said, "Aaron has put in some really encouraging performances for Ulster in recent Inter-provincial ‘A’ games and IRFU Academy Sevens tournaments by demonstrating his next level speed and try-scoring ability.

"He earned himself an opportunity at senior level against Edinburgh, which we hope is the first of many senior appearances for Aaron in the future."

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Aaron Sexton Alan O'Connor Dan Mcfarland Robert Baloucoune Ulster