2017 Lions prop McGrath is one of five players dropped by Ulster

Former Ireland and Lions prop Jack McGrath is the main name on the list of five players leaving Ulster at the end of the current season. Fellow international Sean Reidy was also released along with Ealing-linked Ross Kane, David O’Connor and Mick Kearney.

Loosehead McGrath came off the bench in all three Lions Test games against the All Blacks five years ago, but injury has halted much of his career since then and he played his last game in Ulster in early March against Cardiff. A statement from Ulster read: “Since joining Ulster in the summer of 2019, prop Jack McGrath has made his presence felt in the province both on and off the pitch.

“With 140 appearances for Leinster to his name when he arrived in Belfast, the Dubliner has featured for Ulster on 24 occasions, with injury reducing the number of times he has donned the white shirt recently. McGrath, who is about to undergo further medical treatment, will continue his rehabilitation and return to full fitness as a professional player in the coming months. »

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McGrath, 32, said: “A big thank you to Ulster rugby and the coaches during my time in Belfast. My teammates have become close friends and I will always treasure those friendships. The incredible support from Ulster fans I will miss it, it’s a great feeling to run at Kingspan Stadium as a home player and it’s a shame I can’t get the chance to say goodbye.

“As for the future, I am now a free agent and I have no intention of retiring. I’m facing months of rehabilitation in my battle for full fitness, but I’m surrounded by a top team that will ensure I’m in top shape to return to play. I am fully committed to becoming the first player in any sport to play at an elite level with two hip resurfacing surgeries.

Reidy, meanwhile, returns home to New Zealand at the end of a season where Ulster host Munster in the URC quarter-finals in Belfast next weekend. A mainstay of the last eight years, Ireland’s capped flanker recently made his 150th appearance for Ulster in the European away win at Clermont. He said: “I want to thank everyone at Ulster for making this place feel like home for the past eight years.

“It was a privilege to represent the province and to have the opportunity to play for Ireland. Belfast has felt like home for the past few years and we have formed lifelong friendships. I leave this place with only good memories.”

Prop Kane, who moves to the English Premier League where O’Connor was recently loaned out, and short-term signing Kearney complete the list of players leaving. Ulster boss Dan McFarland said: “Thank you to Jack, Sean, Ross, Dave and Mick for all they have given to the Ulster shirt over the years.

“They can all walk away proud knowing that they have each made a significant contribution to our province and to the journey we are on as a team – and I wish them all the best for the future on behalf of all the players and the club staff.”


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Charles P. Patton