Connacht's John Cooney to join Ulster this summer

Cooney spent two seasons at The Sportsgrounds

Connacht's John Cooney to join Ulster this summer

John Cooney Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Ulster may have found their replacement for Ruan Pienaar with the news that Connacht scrum-half John Cooney is to join the province this summer from rivals Connacht.

The 26-year-old Heineken Cup winner started his career with Leinster at the start of the 201112 season. Cooney made 27 appearances for the RDS club before moving to Connacht for the 2014/15 season, where he has amassed 30 caps.

"I'm delighted to be joining Ulster", Cooney said. "My mum lived in Belfast for a few years and she really enjoyed the city so that made my decision a lot easier."

"Les Kiss was a big factor is my move too as he's so well-respected and I believe I can develop my game under his coaching. I spoke with him at length a few times about his hopes for Ulster Rugby and it sounds like an exciting time to be involved in the set-up."

"I loved my time in Galway and it re-energised my career, but I felt it was the right time for a fresh challenge. I have aspirations to play international rugby but first and foremost my focus will be on earning the starting scrumhalf position at Ulster."

Ulster's Director of Rugby Les Kiss, was delighted with the signing of Cooney calling him their "number one target"

"Having searched domestically and abroad for the best available Irish-qualified scrumhalf, John was undoubtedly our number one target and we're delighted that he'll come on board from this summer."

"He is a great talent; threatening in attack, strong in defence, has a good kicking game and excellent game management skills. I think he will really suit the style of play that we will play next season, with a strong mobile pack and an exciting backline."

"Our pack will be strengthened by a couple of additions next season and they should help to provide the platform for our scrumhalves and outside backs to thrive."

Cooney starred last weekend for Conancht against Zebre, scoring a try and eight conversions as he has fitted into fly-half, as Connacht's injury crisis continues.