Ulster Rugby Academy Manager Gavin Hogg has revealed his squad for the coming season, which includes five new entrants.
The fresh faces joining the 12-strong group are James Humphreys, Conor McKee, Jude Postlethwaite, George Saunderson and Harry Sheridan.
Humphreys, who joins the province from Gloucester Rugby’s Academy set-up, will follow in the footsteps of his father, David Humphreys, as an out-half, having previously played at scrum half during his school days.
Currently a Geography student at Queen’s University Belfast, the 20-year-old has already featured on the international stage having been selected for the Ireland Under-20 Six Nations squad and played against Scotland and Italy.
Meanwhile, the Belfast-born McKee is also no stranger to representing his country having played his part in steering Ireland to third place in this year’s Under-20 Six Nations Championship.
The scrum half, who was the leading points scorer for Sullivan Upper School in 2019, has already gained valuable experience in the provincial set-up through his involvement with both the Under-18 Schools and Under-19 teams.
The 19-year-old Postlethwaite joins the Academy after starring for RBAI as the leading try scorer in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools Senior Cup in 2020, earning him a nomination for the competition’s Player of the Year award.
Having already featured in the Ireland Under-20 Six Nations squad, and represented Ireland at Sevens level, the Lisburn native also enjoyed success as part of last season’s Ulster ‘A’ squad.
Saunderson, another former pupil of Sullivan Upper School, also gained prominence in the 2020/21 season for his involvement with the province’s ‘A’ side, following time spent with the Ulster U-19s.
This led to the 20-year-old prop being selected for the Ireland Under-20 Six Nations squad with Saunderson playing against Wales, France, and delivering a try-scoring performance against Italy.
Rounding-off this season’s Year 1 players is the 19-year-old Sheridan – yet another product of Sullivan Upper.
As his school’s leading try scorer in 2020, the second row, like some of his fellow Academy newcomers, featured in the Ulster ‘A’ and Ireland U-20 set-up last season. He also gained experience at lock during time spent with the Ulster U-19s.
On the selected squad, Hogg said: “With a promising new intake, who have already showcased their talent and tenacity, joining our Academy group, I am looking forward to what the season ahead holds.
I am confident the coaching group and myself will be able to build on the solid foundation which each of these players has established through their involvement over the past number of years in the school, club and international game.
“I would like to thank all of the coaches, particularly those within a domestic game setting, who have played their part in getting these young men to where they are now.
“The opportunity to continue along the Ulster pathway, all with the support of Dan McFarland and his staff, is fantastic for these players, all of whom have a bright future ahead of them.”
ULSTER RUGBY ACADEMY SQUAD – 2021/22 SEASON:
Year 1 –
Year 2 –
Year 3 –