Ulster Rugby today confirmed the signings of talented young back row players Charlie Butterworth and Sean Reidy ahead of the 2014/15 season.
Charlie Butterworth, who can operate at openside or blindside flanker, joins on a one-year contract from Ulster Bank League outfit Landsdowne. The 23-year-old Wicklow native was a key player as the Dublin side won the Division 1A title in 2012/13.
Sean Reidy has signed a short term deal with the province after impressing with Counties Manukau Steelers in New Zealand.
The 25-year-old can play across the back row and is Irish-qualified through his grandfather who hailed from Castlegregory, County Kerry.
The additions will give Ulster even more depth in an already strong area. The province currently have three back row players on tour with Ireland in Argentina, while Roger Wilson played for a World XV against South Africa last weekend and they also have Nick Williams on the books.
And with young indigenous talent like Conor Joyce emerging too, it will provide the coaches with plenty of options for next season.
Butterworth, who played for the Ireland Club XV this year, is delighted to have signed his first professional contract, stating: "I can't wait to get started, it will be brilliant to be involved. Ulster are one of the best teams in Europe, if not the world, at the moment and it was a 'no-brainer' once David Humphreys offered me the contract.
"When I got the chance to go up and have a look at the facilities I was just really blown away. It's a top class stadium - everything is state of the art and I can't wait to start training."
Reidy is also relishing the prospect of joining the Ulster squad for their pre-season regime, admitting: "I had heard a lot about Ulster before I signed. They are a team with a lot of history and tradition but have done really well in their competitions recently and are a team on the up.
"It's a great opportunity for me to go over and learn from the coaches and try to develop my game."
Looking forward to facing England on Sunday, Ireland winger Tommy Bowe said: "We've trained very well this week, we're really excited about the game. It's about going out there and doing whatever we can to get ourselves that win."
Second row Devin Toner previews Ireland's crunch RBS 6 Nations clash with England, saying: "It's a pretty formidable English pack. Attwood and Kruis have played fantastically well. They're well drilled and focused and their scrum and lineout are very good."
Looking forward to facing England this weekend, Ireland back rower Sean O'Brien said: "It's obviously exciting, but it's one game at a time. I don't think there's any more pressure on us than in the first two games. That's the way you have to look at it."
Irish Rugby TV sat down with Ireland Under-20 scrum coach John Fogarty to talk about the U-20 Six Nations so far and Friday's clash with England at Donnybrook. Tickets are on sale on www.ticketmaster.ie.
Ireland Under-20 captain Nick McCarthy and fellow back Billy Dardis spoke to Irish Rugby TV about Friday's U-20 Six Nations showdown with England at Donnybrook. Tickets available on www.ticketmaster.ie.
Shane Byrne and Malcolm O'Kelly preview the Ireland v England Legends match which takes place at Donnybrook this coming Saturday (kick-off 7.30pm). Tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.ie. All proceeds from the game will go to support the IRFU Charitable Trust and the RFU All Schools Charity.
Watch highlights from the Ireland team announcement press conference as Joe Schmidt reveals the team to play France. Peter O'Mahony says it is good to 'have some big figures back' for Saturday's clash.
Ireland Under-20 centre Garry Ringrose said the squad were 'delighted' to run in seven tries away to Italy. He also previews the French match and talks about his involvement in a previous Ireland senior training camp.