A WILL & A WAY INTO IRISH SIDE
WILL ADDISON insists he has got exactly what he wanted after turning his back on England for a new adventure with Ulster and Ireland.
The 26-year-old, who hails from the Lake District, is Irish qualified thanks to his mother, who was born in Fermanagh.
He almost moved to Munster two years ago as Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt (inset) made a first attempt to blood him into the Irish system.
In the end, he turned it down to captain Sale Sharks, explaining: “At any time in your career you have to do what feels right.
“At that moment it was to captain Sale, the club I loved, and enjoy that.
“I had a couple of conversations with (England coach)
Eddie Jones and by having those conversations with the top men you know you’re in the mix.
“I know myself that if I’m playing well and I’m fit, I’d be close to gaining those honours but there was never a point where I was getting into a squad – I was always touch and go.
“Where I’d got to with Ulster back in April, when I chatted to Dwayne Peel, was it felt like the right time for a change.”
Ulster assistant coach Peel played with Addison at Sale, but it was another former Sale scrumhalf – Ireland's Cillian Willis – who was the first to flag it up that Addison was Irish qualified.
And with the residency rule now stretched out from three to five years, Ireland have been quick to scour other nations for Irishqualified players.
Already this season English-born trio Addison, his new Ulster team-mate
Billy Burns and Munster's Mike Haley have been blooded into the Irish system with international honours beckoning.
Addison trained with the Irish squad in Melbourne over the summer and it won't be long before he pulls on a green shirt.
In the meantime though, he wants to build on the good start he's made at Ulster, scoring his first try in last week's Pro14 win over Edinburgh.
“I’ve come to another club with great coaches and great players and it’s pushed me on again, which is exactly what I wanted out of the move.”
Ulster are on a 10-day trip to South Africa and play the Southern Kings today in Port Elizabeth before another Pro14 clash with the Cheetahs on Friday.
GIB HIM A BREAK Jamison Gibson-Parktakes the fight to Dragons for Leinster at the RDS yesterday
IMPACT: Ulster new boy Will Addison