Ulster Rugby have announced the signings of lock Peter Browne and scrum half Paul Rowley, both from English club London Welsh.
Peter Browne, who is 27, can play in the second row or back row and has represented London Welsh on 12 occasions this season.
He began his rugby career at Newcastle Falcons where he made 27 appearances between 2007 and 2010. He moved to Harlequins and played 31 times in his three seasons at the London club. Browne has represented England Students but is Irish-qualified through his father Leonard.
Paul Rowley, who is 26, began his career at the Munster Academy and played for the province’s Under-19 and Under-20 sides.
He moved to English Championship side Plymouth Albion at the start of the 2011/12 season and became a first team regular, making 41 appearances and scoring three tries. He joined London Welsh at the start of this season and has made 17 appearances so far.
Commenting on the signings, Ulster’s team manager Bryn Cunningham said: “As we continue to search for Irish-qualified talent that can add competition to our current squad, I am pleased with the recruitment of both Pete Browne and Paul Rowley.
“Pete’s pedigree and age make him the perfect person to come into an environment that will encourage him to achieve his potential and result in him pushing hard for a starting berth as a 6 or second row. After stints with Newcastle and Harlequins, this season with London Welsh has been a difficult time. However, he has still managed to put in some excellent performances, particularly at 6.
“With a stature of 6ft 7in, it is his athleticism and ball carrying that really stand out, allied to being an excellent line out option. He comes with a great attitude as somebody confident and extremely professional in his approach to the game.”
He added: “Paul is another individual where the time seems right to make an impact at PRO12 level. Having gone through all the representative age grade systems at Munster and Ireland, his pathway was blocked by a number of outstanding Munster scrum halves.
“A few years in the English Championship honed his game getting regular first team rugby. This past season with London Welsh has not been what he hoped for but he now looks forward to a new challenge where we will look to maximise his undoubted ability.
“He possesses an all-round game with control being at the forefront of his skill set. He will aim to put pressure on Paul Marshall and provide a slightly different option with his left-footed kicking from behind the pack.”