Ulster Rugby sign Samoan international on short-term contract
15 February 2015 16:37pm
By Richard Blake
Ulster Rugby has signed Samoan international outhalf, Mike Stanley, on a short-term contract until the end of this season.
The 25 year-old had been training with Super 15 Rugby side, the Chiefs and has signed for four months to be a back-up 10 to Ian Humphreys. Both Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are currently out with medium-term injuries.
Born in Auckland, Mike is from a famous rugby family in New Zealand that includes All Blacks, Joe, Jeremy and Benson Stanley. He moved to England as a child and grew up in Thurrock, where he attended the Gable Hall School.
His ability as a schoolboy saw him join the Saracens Academy and while there he played underage rugby for England at U16, U18 and U20 level.
He spent two years playing club rugby before he decided to head to New Zealand where he signed for Tana Umaga's side, Counties Manukau, in 2012.
Last season, his performances saw him being brought into the Samoan Squad for their 2014 European Summer Tour, culminating in him coming off the bench against Italy and then starting the following week, when he kicked 13 points in a 23-13 victory over Canada.
He has won three international caps so far, the most recent of which was against England at Twickenham last Autumn.
Speaking about his short-term contract with Ulster, Stanley said:
"This is a great opportunity for me and a real privilege to play at such a great province like Ulster. Irish rugby is known for having such passionate fans too, so I'm really looking forward to experiencing that.
"I am also looking forward to getting to know the boys and to have the opportunity to play alongside some real class footballers. I just want to get stuck into it now."
Ulster Rugby's Team Manager, Bryn Cunningham, commented:
"Getting short-term replacements at this stage of the season is incredibly difficult, so to obtain the services of someone with international experience and who has been in a pre-season programme with a Super Rugby squad in New Zealand, is great for Ulster Rugby."With the current injury status in the squad, outside half was an area where we were a bit short. However, the imminent arrival of Mike will give us the comfort that we now have a more than capable back-up for Ian Humphreys."