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Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Doak signs for Harlequins
Doak is a significant capture by Belfast Harlequins
Ballymena half-back Neil Doak will be playing his club rugby with Belfast Harlequins next season.

Ulster player Doak told BBC Sport Online that he had decided to follow coach Andre Bester to the Belfast club.

Doak will have company at recently-relegated Harlequins with lock Cois Beukes and fly-half Ajay Derwin also signing.

It's also fairly certain that dynamic centre Rhys Botha will also be linking up with Bester, the man who brought him over from the Free State.

Bester, who quit Ballymena for Harlequins in early May, is on vacation at present, but has obviously has been busy.

Ajay Derwin
Kiwi Derwin also on the move to Belfast

Doak was mystified by newspaper reports which claimed he would be Portadown's new player-coach next season.

"I have no idea where that story came from," said the 28-year-old Ireland cricket international.

Doak, who said that cricket has had to take a back seat because of the rugby commitments, said the move was for family reasons.

''I was either staying at Ballymena where I enjoyed my rugby, or moving back to Belfast.

''I have a young family now and that is one of the main reasons.

''I found the travelling very difficult, and now that I will be based in Belfast and still the chance of being involved in Ulster, life will be a lot easier.

If you worked hard, Andre would back you all the way
  Neil Doak
''I suppose with Andre's involvement at Harlequins influenced me as well.

''I got on very well with him and enjoyed his method of coaching.

''The players always knew where they stood with him, and if there was a problem with your game he would sort it out.

''If you worked hard, Andre would back you all the way.''

Doak, an Ulster Branch Technical Development Officer, can play either half-back position with equal aplomb.

He has been in magnificent form for Ballymena this year and is a significant capture by the ambitious Belfast club who have been on a shopping spree of late.

Belfast Harlequins coach Andre Bester
Andre Bester quit Ballymena in early May

They have also signed young City of Derry centre Richard Allen and Armagh's South African scrum-half Sean Clancy who has been resident in the province for three years.

In a sense, Doak is coming home as he played for North before moving to Eaton Park from Malone two seasons ago.

Belfast Harlequins was formed when North and Collegians merged a couple of years ago.

Harlequins will be playing in Division Two of the AIB All-Ireland League next season after suffering relegation in the recent campaign.

However, the Belfast club will be hoping to bounce straight back into the top flight.

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See also:

26 May 01 |  Northern Ireland
Dungannon storm home
18 May 01 |  Northern Ireland
Botha to follow Bester?
04 May 01 |  Northern Ireland
Doak free to play
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