Dan McFarland’s long-term Ulster aim

Ulster coach Dan McFarland wants to stay with the province long term but has yet to pen a new contract with the Kingspan Stadium club.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 5:00 pm
Ulster head coach Dan McFarland. Pic by Dickson Digital.
Ulster head coach Dan McFarland. Pic by Dickson Digital.

McFarland left his job as assistant coach with Scotland to take over the Ulster hot seat after Jono Gibbes left for France.

The former Connacht prop signed a three-year deal with Ulster but had to work a period of notice with Scotland.

McFarland’s current deal is up in the summer and Ulster are already set to lose one member of the backroom staff in the summer after Dwayne Peel announced last week he was returning to Wales to take up a role with Cardiff.

“Can I visualise myself here in the long term? Certainly I can, yes, that situation is ongoing,” stated McFarland.

The search for Peel’s successor has already begun.

“Number one, do what’s best for the organisation going forward, that may sound silly but that’s where you start from,” added McFarland. “That means that we have to make sure that our eyes are open to all the options, we’ll have candidates within the organisation, I’m certain there will be candidates from outside the organisation in the search for somebody to do that role.”

“At the end of it, we’ll make sure we come out with the very best option that’s there, we have a lot of exciting backs here and we owe it to them and the organisation to make sure they’re coached really well.

“I can promise you we’ll be doing that.”

Ulster will hope to salvage their Heineken Champions Cup season on Saturday as they travel to Gloucester knowing there is no room for error after losing to Toulouse but McFarland could be without a few key players and said: “We’re waiting on the GRTP (gradual return to play) on Marcell (Coetzee) and Sam (Carter), they’re the main ones, all the other ones are as per.”

The coach still couldn’t put a time frame on lock Iain Henderson return to action but Ireland flanker Jordi Murphy is available after his late withdrawal from the Toulouse game.

Despite losing to the four-time champions on Friday McFarland feels the squad is upbeat ahead of going to Kingsholm.

“The mood’s been good, look, we felt we played pretty well actually, we did a lot of good things in that game,” he said. “Our physical intensity was at the level required, the lads played a pretty smart game for the most part and we had some fantastic plays, some big plays around the mauling we had and also the set piece move off the back of the scrum, which was just an excellent, excellent play.

“We also created plenty of opportunities, we created plenty of possession for ourselves.”

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