In recent years, Ulster’s overseas signings largely consist of players from the southern hemisphere. Only handful have international honours for northern hemisphere nations, notably Carlo del Fava and Rob Dewey spring to mind, while Tommy Seymour and Peter Nelson left Ulster for international honours with Scotland and Canada respectively.
So for them to sign Simon Danielli, a player who was likely to be on international duty during the autumn internationals and Six Nations. Signing from the defunct Borders, Danielli penned a deal in 2007 with his stint ending in 2012, after Ulster’s Heineken Cup final.
With Tommy Bowe leaving for the Ospreys a year after Danielli’s arrival, the Scotsman had the wing spot nailed down alongside Andrew Trimble. In 78 matches for the province the winger scored 26 times, averaging a try every three games.
Danielli was a powerful winger with plenty of pace that loved taking the ball off first receiver or the scrum half. With Trimble and Timoci Nagusa the other wingers, Ulster were excellent at isolating the weak shoulders of defenders with incisive running.
I thought Danielli was often underused at an international level. Scotland were no great shakes in the noughties – often jostling with Italy for a fifth place finish in the Six Nations. He made his debut in a RWC2003 warm up and scored a brace against USA during the tournament.
Sean Lamont, Rory Lamont and Chris Paterson often kept Danielli out of the picture throughout his international career however he started Scotland’s opening game of the RWC2011 scoring two late tries to save Scotland from an embarrassing defeat to Romania.
Off turnover ball, Cillian Willis fed the former Scottish international and with the Scarlets defence on the retreat a simple dummy created the space for him to exploit and score in the corner just before half time.
Danielli has had a spell at Bath before joining the Borders in 2004. He played 60 times for the English side scoring 17 tries while crossed 16 times for the Borders in 46 appearances over three seasons.
This is perhaps my favourite Simon Danielli try. In 2009 Stade Francais were one of the top teams in Europe. Winners of the Top14 four times throughout the decade, they featured some star players including Ramiro Roncero, Benjamin Kayser, Hugo Southwell as well as future stars Pascal Pape and James Haskell.
Not only did Ulster defeat the French giants comfortably Danielli finished this move set up by Stephen Ferris after Mathieu Basteraud knocked the ball on inside the Ulster half.
Stade Francais would go on to win the return leg and subsequently top group while Ulster finished as the worst placed runners up, consequently missing out on the knockout stage as well as a place in the Challenge Cup quarter finals. Ulster would rue a poor defeat in Edinburgh in round two.
Having hung up his playing boots in 2012 due to injury, Danielli is currently working as an investment advisor in London but remains an Ulster supporter.