Ulster received a boost ahead of this weekend’s Magners League match against Edinburgh with the news that centre Darren Cave, back row forward Robbie Diack and prop Declan Fitzpatrick have all agreed new contracts with the club.
The news will see Cave remain at Ravenhill until at least June 2013, with Diack and Fitzpatrick signed up until June 2014.
Now one of five South Africans in the squad, Diack will find himself eligible to play for Ireland come July having been resident in the country for the requisite three year period. The back-row forward has had a big start to the season winning a Man of the Match Award for his display in Ulster’s opening Heineken Cup match against Aironi earlier this month, and despite considerable competition for places in the back row, has featured in all but one of Ulster’s competitive matches so far.
Strong-tackling centre Darren Cave has also had significant game-time for Ulster so far this season. He won his 50thcap for Ulster against Edinburgh last month, but missed last weekend’s trip to Biarritz with a hamstring injury. A product of the Academy system, Cave signed his first contract with Ulster in 2008 and won his first Ireland cap against Canada on the 2009 summer tour to North America.
BJ Botha’s involvement in South Africa’s Tri-Nations squad gave tighthead prop Declan Fitzpatrick a real opportunity at the start of this season and the man, who hails originally from Moseley in the West Midlands, grabbed it. While a calf injury, sustained against Aironi in Round 2 of the Magners League has ruled him out of contention since, he was in line for an international call-up based on his performances for Ulster in the pre and early season games.