Rory Sutherland signs for Ulster on short-term deal

Rory Sutherland is waiting to find out if he needs surgery on the shoulder injury he suffered playing for Scotland against France three weeks ago. Image: ©Craig Watson
Rory Sutherland has signed for Ulster. Image: ©Craig Watson

ULSTER have confirmed the signing of Rory Sutherland on a short-term deal, ending speculation – at least for the rest of this season – that the Scotland prop would either return to former club Edinburgh or move to Glasgow.

Sutherland, who left Edinburgh for Worcester last summer, became a free agent earlier this week after the English club and their subsidiary company were wound up. Edinburgh coach Mike Blair had initially expressed an interest in re-signing the 30-year-old British & Irish Lion, but in the end was restricted to recruiting Duhan van der Merwe, who like Sutherland left the capital for Worcester in the middle of 2021.

A report on the Ulster website explained that Sutherland had only been signed for a relatively brief period because “a proven winner on the biggest stage” – understood to be South African international Steven Kitshoff – is set to join next year.

“Negotiations are at an advanced phase with a player that is a proven winner on the biggest stage, who will join the province next season on a three-year deal following Rugby World Cup 2023,” the report read. “Ahead of this highly anticipated arrival in Belfast, equally hard-edged scrummager – Scotland international and British & Irish Lion, Rory Sutherland – will join the province from next week on a short-term deal to reinforce squad depth at loosehead.”

Ulster coach Dan McFarland added: “Myself, Roddy Grant, Jonny Bell and Jonny Petrie have all worked with Rory at some point in his career and know he will add quality on the field and bring an invaluable level of experience and mindset that our young props can squeeze every drop out of.

“Having Rory’s level of competitiveness at scrum training is going to test and teach the very best we have, something as a scrum coach and former prop I have experienced first-hand and am now excited to be a part of.

“Whilst we are all looking forward to welcoming Rory to Ulster, we are also mindful of the very difficult situation many players and staff at Worcester Warriors find themselves in and we wish them the best for whatever the future holds.

“We look forward to welcoming Rory into the squad next week and making further announcements on our recruitment for next season very soon.”

About Stuart Bathgate 1412 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.