Ulster set to sign New Zealand World Cup winner to replace Christian Leali'ifano 1 year ago

Ulster set to sign New Zealand World Cup winner to replace Christian Leali'ifano

Ulster are set to add New Zealand World Cup winner Stephen Donald to their squad on a short-term deal until the end of the season, as first reported by Jonathan Bradley.

Donald, 34, is currently playing with the Tokyo-based Toshiba Brave Lupus in Japan's Top League and SportsJOE understands that he will join the northern province sometime after the club's 5th-place play-off with Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers on Sunday.

A move to Ulster would represent the fifth stop of Donald's storied career, after previous stints with Bath, Mitsubishi Dynaboars, Suntory Sungoliath and the Waikato Chiefs, where he is the club's all-time leading points scorer.

Current Ulster Head Coach Jono Gibbes coached the fly-half during their three seasons together at the Chiefs before Gibbes left the club after the 2007 season to become the Leinster forwards coach in 2008.

With incumbent Ulster fly-half Christian Leali'ifano set to leave at the end of this month to return to the Brumbies in Super Rugby, Ulster Operations director Bryn Cunningham said last weekend that the province would announce his replacement sometime this week.

"We do have plans and we'll be in a position, hopefully, next week to announce a replacement," Cunningham told BBC Sport during the 38-7 defeat to Leinster.

"It is a very difficult time of the year to try and get a replacement of quality that is going to make a difference to our squad but I think we've done that."

Director of Rugby Les Kiss also told the broadcaster that they have a player waiting to be signed and that they need a player with experiece to help guide 22-year-old fly-half Johnny McPhillips.

"We've got someone there and we will make that announcement when it's all tidied up," said Director of Rugby Les Kiss.

"Christian has done his job for us. Johnny McPhillips came out and got another chance [against Leinster] and did a good job as a young fly-half and Christian has done well in helping him along the way.

"We need someone with a bit of experience and that's what we intend to do."