Ulster Rugby has confirmed the 45 professional players set to represent the province next season, including new additions in World Cup-winning Springbok, Steven Kitshoff, and Dave Ewers, involved in Exeter Chiefs’ historic winning of both the Premiership and Champions Cup in the same year.
Following a season, which saw Ulster compete in play-off rugby in both the United Rugby Championship and Heineken Champions Cup, the club has named a 45-strong side that will line-out in the provincial jersey in 2023/24.
The 40 Senior and 5 Development players represent a squad committed to calling themselves Ulster men, with 37 players from the 2022/23 season retained. Of the 43 Irish-qualified players, five of the province’s own were involved in Ireland’s historic Grand Slam-win in this year’s Guinness Six Nations, with seven Ulster players currently involved in Andy Farrell’s summer training squad.
A pipeline of talent coming through the Ulster Rugby Player Pathway into the Senior side is demonstrated in 34 players having been developed through the Academy set-up or provincial school and club system. Forward Harry Sheridan, who made his first Ulster appearance against Stade Rochelais in Marcel Deflandre, is joined by Ben Carson (centre), former Ireland U20 captain Reuben Crothers (flanker), Conor McKee (scrum-half) and James McCormick (hooker), as they look to earn their debut cap, on a Development contract.
Three new additions are set to join the ranks, with Steven Kitshoff, who captained the DHL Stormers to win the inaugural URC trophy, coming to the province on a three-year deal after the Rugby World Cup 2023 to stamp down his authority as one of the best loosehead props in the game. Powerful Zimbabwean-born number 8, Dave Ewers, arrives at Ulster after a 13-year long spell with Exeter Chiefs, where he made over 230 appearances – and to shore up Head Coach Dan McFarland’s front row options, Irish prop James French also signs on with province having come through Munster’s Academy.
Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said:
“This group of players and support staff have worked extremely hard over the last few years, putting together league performances and results we can be proud of, but there is a bigger goal driving us.
“It’s inevitable there are challenges along the way, but we will be stronger for having come through them together as a collective.
“Our ambition in the new season remains to win silverware, and we have youth and experience from both our Player Pathway and strong signings for the 2023/24 season. I look forward to welcoming Steven, Dave and James to Belfast as Ulster men.”
Ulster Rugby Senior Men’s 2023/24 Squad
Iain Henderson* (Captain)
*denotes players developed through the Ulster Rugby Academy or Ulster school and club system. Development players are in italics.