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Patterson Replaces Windsor In Ulster Senior Squad

Patterson Replaces Windsor In Ulster Senior Squad

Ulster Rugby have confirmed that Sam Windsor will be replaced in the senior squad by Ballymena centre Callum Patterson.

Sam Windsor requested an early release from his contract to allow him to move to America to be with his fiancée, while he will also pursue his rugby career in the region.

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The 29-year-old Australian made three appearances for Ulster since his arrival 18 months ago, including a start against Edinburgh last month. He regularly covered as 24th man for the province in the GUINNESS PRO12 due to his ability to cover out-half and centre.

Callum Patterson has been a prominent figure for Ballymena RFC in recent seasons, while he has also featured for Ulster ‘A’ in the British & Irish Cup. He will join up with the Ulster squad on a full-time basis from the third week of February for the remainder of the season, and will be training out of work hours until then.

Patterson, who plays most of his rugby in midfield, was instrumental in helping Ballymena Academy win the 2010 Danske Bank Ulster Schools Cup – his second half drop goal clinched a 10-7 triumph over Belfast Royal Academy.

The 24-year-old said: “It’s fantastic that I’ve been added to the senior panel as it’s something that I’ve always been trying to achieve. I’m somewhat of a late developer, having come through the club game with Ballymena, so it’s a great opportunity for me.

“Playing for Ulster ‘A’ over the past couple of seasons has been brilliant for me, it’s given me confidence and experience of playing at a good level. I learnt a lot being part of that environment and hopefully I can continue to improve my game under Les (Kiss) and the other coaches. I’d also like to thank my employers for their flexibility in giving me time off to pursue this opportunity.”

Windsor commented: “I got engaged about a month ago and my fiancée is over in America so it was a personal decision to join her over there. The plan is to continue to play rugby – it’s a sport that is growing rapidly in that part of the world and it presents a new challenge to me.

“I’ve loved it here in Belfast; I probably didn’t expect to love it so much. It’s been a great city to live in, the people here are amazing and I’ve forged some life-long friendships with the boys at Ulster. I’ll be keeping an eye on Ulster’s results and I think they will have nothing but success this season and beyond.”

Commenting on the news, Ulster’s director of rugby Les Kiss paid tribute to Windsor and welcomed Patterson into the squad:

“Sam is a hugely popular member of the group and he has been a top class professional in training. His positivity has really rubbed off on the rest of the squad on a weekly basis and that is hugely important,” he said.

“I know that he has contributed a great deal to Ballynahinch RFC during his time in Ulster as well, so we are not the only ones who will be sad to see him go. While it’s disappointing that he’s leaving, the welfare of our players is of paramount importance to us and we fully understand his reasons. We wish Sam every success for the future.

“Callum is someone who we’ve been tracking for quite some time and he has played a number of times for the Ulster ‘A’ team. Indeed, he has collected a few man-of-the-match awards for us and that, coupled with his excellent form for Ballymena RFC, meant he has been knocking on the door of the senior squad.

“He has a great work ethic and is relishing this chance – it’s exciting for us to have someone like that coming on board. We are looking forward to seeing what he can contribute to our roster.”