Ulster Rugby CEO Michael Reid remarked on the importance of keeping home grown talent at Ulster: "We are extremely pleased to have finalized the signing of these players, this strong statement from Ulster Rugby and the players themselves highlights our commitment to developing and nurturing the best local talent and the player's commitment to their Province."
Ulster Rugby Head Coach Matt Williams commented on the seven Ulster born signings that he sees as key building blocks of the Ulster team of the future: "It is fantastic to have these exceptional young players, that the province has developed stay with Ulster. They have all been very successful in their careers so far and are the future of the team. All the staff and other players are really excited that we have signed all six future stars and we are all delighted that Bryn has again signed on the dotted line, he is a player of great experience and I hope he will be a great mentor to some of the younger players coming through the ranks."
As part of the European Cup, Celtic League and Celtic Cup winning sides, Bryn Cunningham has proved to be the rock-steady backbone of Ulster. The Bangor born full back has played 145 games and won 113 points in an Ulster shirt from when he signed to the province in the 97/98 season. Cunningham has also been capped six times to date for Ireland A.
The six other re-signings are all products of the Ulster Rugby Academy, based at Jordanstown.
Back row David Pollock has showed incredible skills and determination on the pitch. Pollock captained the Ireland U19, U20 and U21 sides throughout the last two seasons, and was chosen as Ulster captain for the recent Ulster v Portugal friendly, where he was shown to be a future Ulster captain in the making. Pollock has already racked up 7 games this season for Ulster, and has played 22 in total from breaking into the squad in the 06/07 season.
Darren Cave has proved to be part of a winning combination in Ulster's centre so far this season. Cave has started 6 Magners League and 3 Heineken Cup games already, touching down for two competitive tries, plus the four tries he put on Portugal in recent friendly. Cave has an extensive list of age grade honours having represented Ulster and Ireland at Schools, U19, U20 and U21 levels as well as representing Ireland at A level.
Fly half Niall O'Connor broke into the Ulster squad in the 07/08 season, and to date has played 25 games for Ulster, kicking 75 points over the posts. O'Connor has had a strong start to the 08/09 season, starting 2 Heineken Cup and 5 Magners League games, and coming on as a substitute in a further 2 competitive matches. O'Connor was also called up for Ireland A in the 07/08 season and will be an important part of the Ulster team of tomorrow.
Belfast born Mark McCrea has played 17 games for his province since his debut in the 07/08 season. McCrea has represented Ulster and Irish Schools, as well as Ulster U19's. McCrea made his International mark this year, playing for Ireland A during the Churchill Cup and scoring his first International try during a match against the USA.
Thomas Anderson who has represented Ulster and Irish Schools, Under U19 and Under 20 level has already played in three Magners League games this season, and the Dungannon club man will be keen to strengthen his position within the squad.
Craigavon born Willie Faloon who has been training alongside the senior squad for some months now has cemented his future at Ravenhill with his first professional contract, the loose forward has honours at Ulster, Irish Schools and Ulster A levels.
Ulster's home grown talent will be on show in the Magners League on Saturday 27th December kick off 7.30pm, as the men in white look to climbing the Magners league table and their continue their wining streak.