By Ali Stokes
Gloucester fly-half Billy Burns has joined Irish outfit Ulster with immediate effect on a two-year deal, arriving from Gloucester.
Burns' shock move comes following Gloucester's signing of England fly-half Danny Cipriani from Wasps. Burns has spent the last six years with Gloucester, having graduated from their Academy.
With Cipriani arriving at Kingsholm over the summer, Burns was set to ousted from the Cherry and Whites' starting lineup, returning to the bench after enjoying his longest spell as a starter during his time with the club, starting 24 of the 29 games he was involved in.
With Irish international Paddy Jackson making his move to French side Perpignan and Wallaby Christian Leali'ifano returning to the Brumbies after his short-term deal in Ireland last season, Ulster were in dire need of a high qualify fly-half able to take the reigns as a regular starter.
Burns travelled to Ireland earlier today, heading to the Kingspan Stadium to put pen to paper.
"This is a great opportunity for me to take the next step in my career: Burns said, "and I'm very grateful to Gloucester for supporting me in this decision.
"The Ulster squad is brimming with established and developing talent, and it will be exciting for me to challenge myself in a different environment.
"I'm really looking forward to linking up with the squad next week and getting stuck into pre-season training. Hopefully I can show the Ulster supporters what I'm all about and contribute to the team in what is a hugely important season."
Commenting on the capture, Bryn Cunningham, Ulster's Operations Director said:
"We're delighted that Billy has signed with us for the next two seasons. It has not been an easy process to find someone with the requisite abilities to add real value to our squad for this season, but thankfully we've come to an agreement with Gloucester and have been able to bring Billy across.
"Johnny McPhillips has developed brilliantly and Michael Lowry has shown that he's a serious talent, but it was critical that we had another recognised 10 with a good level of experience, otherwise we simply would've been short of numbers in that area. The addition of Billy now gives us an exciting array of young talent to call upon in the coming years.
"Billy has an impressive range of skills and has gained a considerable amount of experience for an outhalf of his age. Importantly, being Irish-qualified, we have no doubt that Billy has the potential to represent Ireland in the near future."
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