Ulster have announced that Sale Sharks captain Will Addison will join the province this summer on a two-year deal.
The announcement is a major boost as Will Addison will add significant quality and experience to the Ulster back-line. The Penrith-born utility back is a former England Under-20 international, but is Irish-qualified through his Enniskillen-born mother.
Addison made his debut for Sale Sharks in 2011 and has since gone on to make 112 appearances for the Aviva Premiership outfit, scoring 158 points in the process. The versatile 25-year-old’s impressive club form had led to calls for him to be included in Eddie Jones’ England squad in recent seasons.
Commenting on his impending move to Ulster, Addison said: “To be honest, it was a really difficult decision to leave Sale after almost a decade playing in their colours. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, especially the last 12 months while I’ve been club captain.
“However, it’s a short career and this represents a great opportunity for me to develop as a player and to experience a new environment. I do have ambitions to play at international level but, for me, the immediate priority is to work hard and enjoy my rugby at Ulster.
“It’s a proud team with lots of history, but also one with exciting plans in place for the future. Having spoken with Bryn (Cunningham), it’s clear that Ulster are starting with a clean slate from next season and it sounds like the ideal time to come on board.
“Bryn’s passion for Ulster is evident and that really rings true with me, having spent so much of my career at one club. My mum is from Enniskillen and I think Ulster will be a great fit. Another factor in my decision was that I played with Dwayne Peel (Ulster’s assistant coach) when he was at Sale and he’s a good friend of mine, so I’m looking forward to working with him again.
“I’ve heard a lot about the Ulster supporters and, for me, Kingspan Stadium is one of the best stadiums in Europe, so playing there on a regular basis is a very exciting proposition.”
Ulster’s operations director Bryn Cunningham added: “Will is a really exciting capture for us. He has tremendous leadership qualities and is very well respected within the Aviva Premiership. To earn the role of club captain at such a young age speaks volumes for his character, while his ability to play in a number of positions across the back-line is also a major bonus for us.
“Will clearly has the desire and potential to play international rugby and that was undoubtedly a key driver in his decision-making process. It’s a move that has been welcomed by Joe Schmidt and we look forward to seeing how he progresses in the coming seasons.
“We will have some big changes in our squad composition for next season with a number of players moving on and with the likes of Will, Jordi (Murphy) and Marty (Moore) coming in.
“The focus for us over the next few seasons will be improving the competitiveness of the squad by demanding more from senior players and giving opportunities to our talented crop of Academy players, while good recruitment will also be critical.”
Commenting on the news, Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond admitted: “It has been a pleasure to work with Will. He has captained the side this season and the enthusiasm and desire he brings will be missed. We all wish him well.”