Ireland hooker Rory Best will take over from Johann Muller as the new captain of Ulster, it has been announced today.
Rory Best has played 152 times for his province and returns to the captaincy role that he first held from 2007 to 2011.
The 31-year-old has also captained Ireland on four occasions and led out the British & Irish Lions against the Brumbies in the 2013 tour to Australia.
Commenting on the Ulster captaincy, Best said: "It is a huge honour to captain your province. I enjoyed doing it a few years ago but in 2011, I felt I just needed to step down and to concentrate on my game.
"We also had a ready-made captain in the squad in Johann (Muller) which made it easier and he did a fantastic job.
"It is nice to have been asked to do it again. With the extra experience that I have gained at provincial and international level in recent years I believe that I am more equipped than ever before to lead this group of players.
"Being the captain of Ulster is something that I absolutely love doing and I am looking forward to the challenge of the new season."
Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip is in the running for the EPCR European Player of the Year award for 2015. He has been included on the shortlist with players from Champions Cup finalists Clermont Auvergne and Toulon and beaten semi-finalists Saracens.
Leinster have shown themselves to be more than capable of overcoming the odds by winning big European knockout games in France, and that is the task facing Matt O'Connor's men when they take on defending champions Toulon in Marseille on Sunday.
Looking forward to the new GUINNESS PRO12 season, Connacht captain John Muldoon said: "We've a lot of younger guys who have big years ahead of them and a few big name signings who will hopefully be able to fit into the system and work hard among the ethos of Connacht Rugby."
Irish Rugby TV was at the launch of the GUINNESS PRO12 and we caught up with Jamie Heaslip, Pat Lam, John Muldoon, Matt O'Connor and Rory Sheridan of Diageo as the new sponsor gets ready to kick off an exciting season.
Out-half Dan Parks had a vital role in Connacht's historic Heineken Cup triumph in Toulouse, kicking two penalties, a drop goal and the touchline conversion of Kieran Marmion's try. He spoke to Rob Murphy after the game.
Rob Murphy caught up with Gavin Duffy after Connacht's inspirational defeat of Toulouse in the Heineken Cup, with the Mayo man giving an insight into how they produced such a high quality performance against the French giants.
Young scrum half Kieran Marmion was one of Connacht's star performers in their famous 16-14 Heineken Cup victory away to Toulouse, scoring a crucial second half try and picking up the man-of-the-match award.
Giving his reaction after Connacht's historic 16-14 win away to Toulouse, head coach Pat Lam said: "The belief's been there, we knew that this performance was not far away. To come here in a massive game with the side they put out is an unbelievable effort (from us) and I'm so proud of the guys."
Fergus McFadden, who helped to launch the Ulster Bank League awards in Dublin, spoke afterwards about his recovery from a fractured hand, previewed Leinster's back-to-back games against Northampton Saints and reflected on his involvement in the GUINNESS Series with Ireland.
Out-half Craig Ronaldson, who has made a successful transition from Ulster Bank League rugby with Lansdowne to a professional contract with Connacht, talks about the step up to this level of rugby, the importance of the league in providing game-time and a shop window for players and he also previews the province's back-to-back clashes with Toulouse.
Connacht head coach Pat Lam was proud of the performance his players produced in their 23-17 Heineken Cup defeat to Saracens, but he was left frustrated by some of referee Pascal Gauzere's decisions in a tight second half.
The Irish launch of the 2013/14 Heineken Cup took place in Dublin last week and Irish Rugby TV caught up with Sky Sports commentator Stuart Barnes to chat about his favourite Heineken Cup memories and get his thoughts on this season's tournament.