Ulster Rugby have announced that Ireland scrum half John Cooney has signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him at Kingspan Stadium until the summer of 2022.
John Cooney joined Ulster from provincial rivals Connacht last summer and enjoyed an outstanding debut season, which culminated in three awards at the Heineken Ulster Rugby Awards Dinner in May.
He won the Bank of Ireland Player of the Year, the Supporters Club Player of the Year and Rugby Writers’ Player of the Year awards after a remarkable season that saw him score 226 points in 25 appearances. He was also selected in the 2017/18 GUINNESS PRO14 Dream Team and was the Championship’s top scorer (160 points).
The 28-year-old half-back has continued that fine form into the new season and was the match winner in last Saturday’s opening round fixture against the Scarlets, kicking all of his side’s points in a hard-fought 15-13 home win.
Cooney won his first international cap against Japan in June 2017 and added a second on this year’s successful summer tour to Australia. He started his career at his home province, Leinster, before moving to Galway to link up with Connacht.
Commenting on his decision to remain with Ulster, Cooney said: “I’ve had an unbelievable time since I moved up here and I’m delighted to commit my long-term future to the province. The players, staff and supporters have all welcomed me with open arms and shown me incredible support.
“The character that everyone within the organisation displayed last year, in challenging circumstances, was really impressive and I’m immensely proud to represent Ulster Rugby.
“Bryn and Dan (McFarland) are creating a very ambitious young squad and I’m excited about what we can achieve as a group over the next few years, through a combination of hard work and talent.”
Ulster’s operations director Bryn Cunningham added: “John has become a key player for us and it was crucial to get him signed up on a longer-term deal. The number of man-of-the-match awards he won last season and the chants of ‘Coo-ney’ around the stadium says it all about how much he has contributed!
“His energy and competitiveness, allied to his desire to continually improve, is helping us to drive standards day in, day out, and that is hugely important in terms of us striving for future success. We believe that John, like so many of our players, has his best years ahead of him.
“With the age profile of our squad being really exciting for future years, it will be up to players like John to provide us with leadership and experience in the coming seasons.”