Scrum half ​John Cooney delighted to commit future to Ulster Rugby after speculation

​Good Friday turned into a great Friday for Ulster fans with the news that scrum half and terrace favourite John Cooney has signed a two-year contract extension to stay at the club.
John Cooney in action for Ulster. Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS GroupJohn Cooney in action for Ulster. Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group
John Cooney in action for Ulster. Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group

Speculation had been rife that the pivot would leave Belfast when his existing deal expired in the summer and the rumours gathered more pace when Cooney became eligible to play his international rugby for Scotland in February but Gregor Townsend didn’t pick him during the Six Nations.

Cooney said he is delighted to commit his future to Ulster rugby and stay in Belfast.

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He said: “My mum comes up to every game and she definitely calls it her home. I have played here longer than I have for any other team.

"I have just settled really well here, played here a lot more than I have in any other province.

“It means a lot to my family. My mum really didn’t want me to leave, she loves getting up to every game and she is a big part of my life and a big part of my career so if I have her in my corner constantly telling me to stay and telling me that I have had a great time here it is pretty easy then to stay because keeping her happy is part of my decision making process as well.”

He added: “This is my home – I have been here for six years. Obviously the first season was a turbulent one but ever since then I think we have been going in the right direction, evolving and growing as a team.

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“Last year it was heart-breaking knowing how close we came but also gave us a lot of satisfaction that we could compete with Toulouse who were the defending European champions.

“The Stormers away, to lose so late in the game was heart-breaking but it gave me a lot of pride but also confidence as where we can go as a squad.

“On paper, and in black and white, this is my home and this is where I want to play so it wasn’t difficult in that regard because this is the most important team that I have played for.”

Ulster need to beat Edinburgh tomorrow night for the right to host a semi-final in the URC while the Scottish side have nothing to play for.

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“On paper they have one of the best squads in the league and they definitely haven’t got out of this season what they would have liked coming into it,” said Cooney.

“I know it has been a bit turbulent for them with backroom staff, but we saw the last day they put a good score on the Ospreys.

“They are a team you never underestimate – some days they are incredible and some days they don’t play as well as they probably could but on paper they have such a good squad.”

Ulster side to face Edinburgh tomorrow night (Friday, April 21) at Kingspan Stadium (KO 7.35pm), live on ViaPlay and

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(15-9): Mike Lowry, Rob Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney;

(1-8) Andy Warwick, Rob Herring, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Alan O’Connor (Captain), Kieran Treadwell, David McCann, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen

Replacements: Tom Stewart, Callum Reid, Gareth Milasinovich, Sam Carter, Harry Sheridan, Nathan Doak, Luke Marshall, and Craig Gilroy