Nick Williams to leave Ulster and join Cardiff Blues

Ulster's Nick Williams who will leave at the end of the season
Ulster's Nick Williams who will leave at the end of the season

Cardiff Blues have signed Ulster number eight Nick Williams for the 2016/17 season.

The 32-year-old New Zealand-born back-rower is an explosive ball carrier and has also spent time with Munster and Aironi since moving to Europe in 2008.

Williams - cousin of New Zealand World Cup winner Sonny Bill Williams - has scored 13 tries in 67 appearances for Ulster during a four-year spell.

He has signed a long-term contract with the Blues and Cardiff head coach Danny Wilson said: “Nick has been one of the standout performers in the Guinness PRO12 for the last few seasons so we are thrilled that he will join us from next season.

“He is an extremely physical and uncompromising forward who will give us real edge and bring a real winning mentality with him. Nick is undoubtedly a strong ball carrier who is involved in big collisions in both attack and defence.

“We are pleased to bring a player not only of his quality but also with vast experience to the region as we look to enhance our back row options and firepower for the coming seasons.”

Williams added: “It is a new challenge for me and I’m excited about what I’ve heard about what Cardiff Blues are looking to achieve, both on and off the field, in the coming years.

“I feel both physically and mentally as strong as ever and I’m ready to make an impact. Ulster have looked after me so I feel I can really contribute in Wales and in a new environment.

“I spoke to Danny at length about the region and his plans. I’m now looking forward to using my experience to help the team and getting stuck in.”

Bryn Cunningham, Ulster’s Operations Director, added: “We wish Nick, Gemma and the kids the very best of luck with their new challenge in Cardiff. They will be missed by all.

“Nick is a true gentleman and a real fans’ favourite. He is currently producing some excellent rugby for Ulster and I know that he will continue in the same vain for the rest of the season, with so much still to play for.

“While we are unable to see Nick in the white of Ulster after his current contract, I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all his efforts over the past four years. His physicality, barnstorming runs and off-loading abilities are always exciting to watch and we’ve told him not to do quite as much next season when playing against us!

“Over the next period we will be able to announce Nick’s replacement, which will be a top class addition to the squad moving into next season.”