Dan McFarland links up with Ulster

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Dan McFarland links up with Ulster
Belfast , United Kingdom - 21 August 2018; Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt, left, with New Ulster Head Coach Dan McFarland during his first training session with the Ulster Squad at Pirrie Park, in Belfast. (Photo By John Dickson/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

With the announcement on Sunday that the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) had reached a mutual agreement, Dan McFarland began his role as Head Coach with Ulster Rugby last Monday.

McFarland signed a three-year contract as Ulster’s new head coach back in April however, the SRU insisted that he must serve his entire nine month notice period in full – meaning that he would not join the province until January 2019.

With McFarland missing the majority of the preseason period, Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby took up a temporary role with the province to ensure a smooth transition for Ulster and McFarland. Able to now assume the fulltime role, McFarland is capable and confident in his new assignment.

Difficult task lies ahead for Dan McFarland

A difficult task lies ahead for McFarland, succeeding Jono Gibbes. The past couple of season’s have not been easy for Ulster, despite having some big names in their squad. They have struggled for results both domestically and in European competition.

This of course, has not been helped by the the lack of consistency among the coaching staff and controversies with players off the field. However, there is a new found case for optimism with the arrival of McFarland. Visited by Irish Rugby head coach Joe Schmidt (see main picture) to reinforce the role that Celtic League sides play in the ‘grand scheme’ of the next RWC and 2019 Six Nations. It must be a heavy responsibility, even while the Club v Country commitments mean that he must juggle his squad across the entire 2018/19 season.

As tough as it may be, McFarland is an capable man for the task. His coaching experience is vast for a man who only finished his playing career in 2006. Having been involved with Connacht, Glasgow, the Irish Under 20s and Scotland, Dan McFarland could be the answer to many of Ulster Rugby’s problems.

2018/19 a ‘Baptism of Fire’

His arrival, just two weeks out from the start of the Pro14 season, will no doubt prove challenging. 2017/18 Guinness Pro14 Champions Scarlets, await Ulster in the opening round of the season, a challenging game, but one which could provide a boost in confidence for both players and management alike should they produce a good performance.

Ulster have made a number of shrewd signings over the summer period. That includes Billy Burns, Marty Moore, Jordi Murphy and Will Addison. With players like Rory Best, Jacob Stockdale, Iain Henderson and Luke Marshall all remaining within the squad, there is no doubt the talent is there for Ulster.

It will be up to Dan McFarland and his Ulster Rugby staff to ensure these players can combine to reach the clubs maximum potential over this season.

 

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