EDINBURGH Rugby have bolstered their squad for next season by signing Irish utility back Michael Allen on a pre-contract deal from fellow Guinness Pro12 side Ulster.
Allen, who can play as a centre or as a winger, will join up with the Edinburgh squad for pre-season after he agreed a two-year deal at BT Murrayfield. The 24-year-old made his Ulster debut in 2011 and has spent his entire professional career at Ravenhill. He has made eight league appearances this season and has scored one try.
I’m just looking forward to getting stuck in and trying to spring anything I can.Michael Allen
The Belfast-born back, who stands at just under 6ft tall and is known for his pace and tricky running, will strengthen an area of the team that will be hit by the departure of talismanic winger Tim Visser, who joins Harlequins at the end of the season.
Speaking to the Edinburgh Rugby website, Allen said: “Edinburgh have played some brilliant rugby this year and shown the potential of being a very, very good side.
“I think the ethos, the fitness, the physicality, everything – from what I can see the team pride themselves on being the best defensively, the fittest and the most disciplined and I’m just looking forward to getting stuck in and trying to spring anything I can.”
A former pupil of Methodist College in Belfast, his peers included Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy and Paddy Jackson who also joined Ulster’s Academy straight from school.
“I got into the game through my dad who’s a big rugby man, a big club man,” Allen added.
In fact, Allen attended his first game at two weeks old, watching his dad turn out for the now Belfast Harlequins team who Allen jnr went on to play for. With Methodist College he won the Ulster Schools’ Cup in 2008 and 2009, and continued to represent Ulster at under-18, under-19 and Academy levels.
Making his senior Ulster debut against Leinster in 2011, he came to the fore last season when injuries to Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble saw him taking his chance on the wing.
He said: “I’ve always been in the centre, played centre all through school and then moved over to the wing to try to get more game time, but I’m happy doing both.”
His rugby heroes are equally split over the two field positions.
“My first real rugby memory was Jonah Lomu in that World Cup where he ran over the English and I remember thinking he’s pretty class; and Johnny Wilkinson, whenever he was playing, he was unbelievable.
“Up until recently, whenever we were playing Toulon I was hoping to play against Matt Giteau, he was also one of my childhood heroes.”