The signing of Highlanders utility back, Matt Faddes is rumoured to be close to being finalized according to the Belfast Telegraph.
But who is the 27-year-old and where will he fit in at Ulster Rugby?
Firstly, I think this would be a really good signing and while Ulster also need to strengthen in the forwards, more firepower in the back line should be gratefully accepted, especially for players which are not going to have international commitments.
He’ll be no stranger to those of you that watch Super Rugby having appeared in a Highlanders jersey no less than 35 times since his debut in the 2016 edition of the competition against the Blues.
His debut season was marked with 16 caps and ten tries as the Highlanders lost in the semi finals to the Lions, finishing just one behind top try scorer, Israel Folau. His tries saw him awarded 2016 Rookie of the Year and considered a potential ‘bolter’ to the 2016 All Black squad by some.
He’s also earned 49 caps for his provincial side Otago, scoring 18 tries in eight seasons and helped the south island side win the Ranfurly Shield last season. He has been described as a ‘confidence player’ by the Otago Daily Times and his form last season evidences this where he started just one game for his Super Rugby side and admitted himself that he was playing poorly.
His versatility (he’s predominantly and wing or a centre but can also play fullback) has seen him compared with Will Addison, whose been one of Ulster’s player of the season this year. They are similar in the sense that both have a terrific eye for a gap and will leave defenders in their wake.
Although not capped by New Zealand, he appeared on the Sevens circuit in 2013, playing in three tournaments. Ulster won’t have to contend with international call ups due to New Zealand’s policy of not selecting players playing outside of the country while it also looks unlikely that he is Irish qualified. He’ll be a good player to have during the international breaks.
If the signing does come through, it won’t be the first time that Faddes has played at Kingspan, having scored a try against Fiji for the Barbarians in November 2016.
August 2017 – out for six to eight weeks with a hand injury