Former Ireland Under-20 international outhalf, James McKinney, is poised to return to Ulster.
The 22-year-old is coming ‘home’ after spending a year with Rotherham Titans in the English Championship.
The News Letter understands negotiations are at an advanced stage and McKinney will be the fifth player recently to return to the Ravenhill fold after a period away – Tommy Bowe, Roger Wilson, Niall O’Connor and Lewis Stevenson being the others.
McKinney came through the Ulster Academy system prior to signing a development contract with the Irish Province in 2011.
The former Campbell College captain went on to debut for Ulster with a cameo appearance off the bench against Ospreys at the start of the PRO12 campaign in September 2011 and later made his first start against Leinster in December of that year.
With opportunity limited at Ulster, McKinney took the option to move to Rotherham last summer and he has impressed in the Championship, making the 10 jersey his own although having to share the kicking duties with fullback Gerry Law.
However, it was in the green jersey of the Ireland Under-20s that McKinney served notice of his potential and is one of a few players who represented the team in consecutive IRB Junior World Cups – Argentina (2010) and Italy (2011).
In Argentina McKinney illustrated his accuracy from the kicking tee with an 83 per cent strike rate, while from hand he is accurate and long. Indeed his footballing skills are augmented with a wide selection of penetrative chips and grubber kicks, while he is a flyhalf who likes to attack the line.
With the current interest in the outhalf position across the Provinces and Ireland, McKinney’s return to Belfast will add further spice.