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Ulster Rugby has announced its academy squad for the upcoming 2021/22 season, with five new faces coming into the squad.
The fresh faces joining the 12-strong group are James Humphreys, Conor McKee, Jude Postlethwaite, George Saunderson and Harry Sheridan.
All five players were involved in this year’s U20 Six Nations campaign for Richie Murphy’s Ireland.
Humphreys, who joins the province from Gloucester Rugby’s Academy set-up, will follow in the footsteps of his father, David Humphreys, as an out-half, having previously played at scrum-half during his school days.
The 20-year-old Queen’s University Belfast student played against Scotland and Italy for Richie Murphy’s national team.
Meanwhile, Belfast-born, Conor McKee, also helped steer Ireland to third place in this year’s Under-20 Six Nations Championship.
The scrum-half, who was the leading points-scorer for his school, Sullivan Upper, in 2019, has already gained valuable experience in the provincial set-up through his involvement with both the U18 Schools and U19 teams.
19-year-old, Jude Postlethwaite, joins the Academy after been recognised as the leading try-scorer in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup in 2020, earning him a nomination for the competition’s Player of the Year, whilst playing for RBAI.
Postlethwaite has represented Ireland at Sevens as well as at U20 level and the Lisburn native also enjoyed success as part of last season’s Ulster ‘A’ squad.
George Saunderson, another former pupil of Sullivan Upper School, also gained prominence in the 2020/21 season for his involvement with the province’s ‘A’ side, following time spent with the Ulster U19s.
This led to the 20-year-old prop playing against Wales, France and Italy for the Ireland U20s and scored a try in the latter game.
Rounding off this season’s Year 1 players is 19-year-old, Harry Sheridan – a third product of Sullivan Upper joining the side.
As his school’s leading try-scorer in 2020, the lock, like some of his fellow Academy new-starts, featured in the Ulster ‘A’ setup on top of his international exploits.
He also gained experience in the second row during time spent with the Ulster U19s.
On the selected squad, Ulster Rugby Academy Manager, Gavin Hogg, said: “With a promising new intake, who have already showcased their talent and tenacity, joining our Academy group, I am looking forward to what the season ahead holds.
“I am confident the coaching group and myself will be able to build on the solid foundation which each of these players has established through their involvement over the past number of years in the school, club and international game.
“I would like to thank all of the coaches, particularly those within a domestic game setting, who have played their part in getting these young men to where they are now. The opportunity to continue along the Ulster pathway, all with the support of Dan McFarland and his staff, is fantastic for these players, all of whom have a bright future ahead of them.”
ULSTER RUGBY ACADEMY SQUAD 2021/22: