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Tuesday, 14 August, 2001, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
Wise choices from Solomons
Rob Brink
Springbok Robbie Brink adds steel to Ulster forward unit
BBC Sport Online assesses Ulster's chances for the forthcoming rugby season.

Ulster have flattered to deceive since their 1999 European Cup odyssey.

But with a new Director of Rugby, an influx of experienced southern hemisphere heavyweights, and new captain in Ireland flanker Andy Ward, they are confident of doing some damage this season.

The arrival of former Springbok assistant coach Alan Solomons and his extremely professional attitude, has taken Ulster into a new state of readiness.

A wise sage, Solomons has recruited sensibly, and has added considerable beef to the back five.

  Season tips:
Celtic League prediction: Knock-out stage
Inter-Provincial Champ prediction: 2nd
Star player: David Humphreys

The 50-year-old former lawyer from Cape Town has former Ireland centre Mark McCall and Kiwi Adrian Kennedy as his coaching assistants with Scotland's Phil Mack a torturous fitness advisor.

Solomons has also brought with him from Super 12 side Stormers Robbie Brink, a member of South Africa's 1995 World Cup winning squad.

Nicknamed the ''Tank'', Brink will certainly add a little lustre to the Ulster pack.

Kiwi Adam Larkin, former with Bristol centre, has been snapped up from Castres, while young Aussie David Allen looks a useful acquisition at openside.

Ulster welcome back Lions lock Jeremy Davidson who has also decided to come home after three years with Castres.


Lions lock Davidson back in harness

Ulster are also awaiting the arrival of Canterbury Crusaders hooker Matt Sexton to compliment their 30-man squad.

Ulster started with two pre-season victories over Coventry and Sale Sharks and already showed glimpses of Solomons all-action, fluent game plan.

The Ulster backline does look potent with internationals James Topping and Tyrone Howe on the wings and Ryan Constable and Jonathan Bell plus Larkin in midfield.

Ireland fly-half David Humphreys will again be the key that Solomons hopes will unlock a few defensive doors.

With the worry of captaincy now in the hands of flanker Ward, Humphreys could toss aside any restrictions to point Ulster into the Celtic League play-offs.

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See also:

08 Aug 01 |  Northern Ireland
Ulster struggle against Sale
09 Aug 01 |  Northern Ireland
Solomons: Still a lot of work to do
03 Aug 01 |  Northern Ireland
Ulster stem Coventry comeback
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