Ulster Rugby: Prop Steven Kitshoff exit talk won’t distract players – Iain Henderson

Ulster Rugby team captain, Iain Henderson, has expressed his belief that Steven Kitshoff will continue to perform well for the team despite uncertainty surrounding his future. Kitshoff joined the team last November, only a few weeks after winning the Rugby World Cup for the second time with South Africa. However, it has been reported that the 32-year-old could return to the Stormers this summer after only one season at Kingspan Stadium.

Despite the uncertainty, Henderson has praised Kitshoff’s professionalism and expects nothing less from him as they prepare for an important game this weekend. The team suffered a defeat against Kitshoff’s former side in Cape Town last weekend, which was only his 12th game in Ulster colors. Of those 12 games, the team won four and lost eight. Despite the mixed results, Henderson believes that Kitshoff has been an asset to the team since his arrival only five months ago.

Kitshoff has been a great influence on the younger players in the team, especially in the scrum environment and around the park. He has been filling the boots that he put on the international field before. Henderson has praised him for his ball-carrying skills, his chop tackle, and his defense.

Before the United Rugby Championship final in June last year, Kitshoff had called the contest his “final [Stormers] game for now.” He added that he could always come back to the Stormers and would always keep that door open. However, since then, the financial pictures at his current and former clubs have changed significantly. The Western Province Rugby Football Union completed an equity deal with the Red Disa Consortium in March, while Ulster has been dealing with well-documented financial constraints and posted losses of more than £900,000 last season.

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Fly-half Billy Burns has been confirmed as the biggest name to leave the team this summer, with the former Irish international set to join Munster for next season. More players are expected to follow at the end of the campaign, where both head coach Dan McFarland and CEO Jonny Petrie have also departed.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the team, Henderson does not see talk of Kitshoff’s exit as a distraction ahead of the resumption of European action this weekend. The team will take on Montpellier at the GGL Stadium on Sunday afternoon in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup. Henderson believes that the speculation that goes on in professional sport is part of the territory. He sat down and had dinner with Steven in the middle of last week, and he does not see it being an issue that they can foresee or that they’re going to read into too much between now and playing the game at the weekend.

This is the team’s second time in the second-tier European competition, with the team having reached the semi-finals in 2021, only to be beaten by Leicester Tigers at Welford Road. However, as they seek their first trophy of any kind since 2006, Henderson says now is not the time to be talking about winning competitions. The team has to take it game by game, and many things need fixing before they can make any statements about winning the Challenge Cup.

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