Williams refuses to talk of future

RABO DIRECT PRO12:

Williams refuses to talk of future

Last season’s RaboDirect Pro12 Player of the Year is one of four of Ulster’s foreign legion who are out of contract at the end of May. Williams says he just wants to concentrate in getting Ulster back to winning ways when they visit Galway for this evening’s derby at the Sportsground.

But most Ulster fans are wondering what will be happening to their team if those overseas players leave Ravenhill just when things appear reasonably rosy.

Unless hard-working director of rugby David Humphreys can use his well-known bargaining powers and his ability to charm the rugby world again, Ulster may have to make the best of this season, then brace themselves for a bit of a bleak period.

Skipper Johann Muller is on the cusp of retiring after a four-year stint in Belfast; his next door neighbour in the east of the city, Ruan Pienaar, is being chased down for his services at the end of his third year; John Afoa, whose wife has already returned to New Zealand and who is reported to have agreed to join Toulon next year, and Polynesian Williams could also be heading elsewhere.

With coach Mark Anscombe also at the end of a two-year deal in May, it is going to be a busy three months of hard-nosed negotiating and travelling for Humphreys.

Connacht will not be a pushover tonight, and there is high expectation in the province following the selection of former Chiefs captain Craig Clarke in his first competitive start for the province.

The double-winning Super 15 captain will join captain Michael Swift in the second row.

CONNACHT: G Duffy, F Carr, R Henshaw, E Griffin, M Healy, D Parks, K Marmion, B Wilkinson, J Harris-Wright, N White, M Swift (captain), C Clarke, J Heenan, W Faloon, J Muldoon.

Replacements: S Henry, R Ah You, R Loughney, A Muldowney, G Naoupu, P O’Donohoe, C Ronaldson, D Poolman.

ULSTER: J Payne, D McIlwaine, D Cave, L Marshall, M Allen, P Jackson, I Porter; T Court, R Herring, D Fitzpatrick, J Muller (captain), I Henderson, R Wilson, C Henry, N Williams.

Replacements: N Annett, K McCall, R Lutton, L Stevenson, R Diack, P Marshall, J McKinney, C Gilroy.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox