Ulster sign O'Connor and Herring
Pair agree terms for 2012/13 season
Last Updated: June 18, 2012 6:54pm
Niall O'Connor: Returning to Ulster after spell with Connacht
Niall O'Connor and Rob Herring have joined Ulster for their 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12 campaign, the club announced on Monday.
Fly-half O'Connor, who is a graduate of Ulster's academy, returns to the club following a one-year spell with Connacht.
The 24-year-old will compete for the number 10 shirt with Ireland U20 captain Paddy Jackson and South Afican International Ruan Pienaar.
South African Herring will arrive in Belfast from Western Province, where he was involved in their Vodacom Cup squad.
The Irish-qualified hooker enjoyed a brief stint with London Irish, making his senior debut against Northampton in May 2010, before returning to his native South Africa.
"We are continuing to build our squad depth," said Ulster director of rugby, David Humphreys, on the club's official website.
"The additions of Niall and Rob will further enhance our ability to compete over the course of a gruelling season.
"Niall went away and gained a year's experience playing with Connacht and he has now come back to challenge Paddy and Ruan for the number 10 jersey.
"Rob is a typical South African forward who is very physical and is an accurate set piece operator. He is Irish-qualified and is a very ambitious individual who will thrive in our training environment."
O'Connor said his game has been improved by the stint in Galway, but is delighted to be returning to his home province.
"I got a fair bit of game time down there and I'd like to thank Eric and his staff for that," he said. "I gained more experience and feel I have improved as a player over the past season
"But when the possibility arose to move back up to my home club, I thought it was a fantastic opportunity as Ulster are one of the best sides in Europe.
"It was great watching my mates do so well in the Heineken Cup last season. I'm looking forward to getting back to training next week to see them all again.
" I'm not thinking too far ahead but I'll get pre-season under my belt and then hopefully I'll get a run out in the friendlies and I'll take it from there."
O'Connor and Herring will add further depth to a squad boosted by the signings of Tommy Bowe and Roger Wilson.