Legendary Irish scrum-half Colin Patterson has questioned why Ulster didn't do more to develop a home-grown successor to Ruan Pienaar.
The 2016/17-season will be Pienaar's last for the club due to the IRFU's new succession policy. The announcement has prompted Patterson to wonder why more scrum-halves haven't emerged during Pienaar's time at the club.
"There's obviously a reason behind it," Patterson told the Belfast Telegraph.
"New Zealand can produce scrum-half after scrum-half after scrum-half. If they can do it, why can't we? It's not a case of why can't we, it's why aren't we. There are certain things to be done to produce more of our own that we're just not doing.
"If we're going to develop our own, then we need to put coaching systems in place that produce the very best."
Ulster start their PRO12 campaign on Friday night against the Dragons at Kingspan Stadium. Injuries has forced Director of Rugby Les Kiss to give academy prop Ross Kane his debut.
Rodney Ah You, a summer arrival from champions Connacht, showed "delayed onset concussive symptoms" after last week's friendly win over Northampton Saints meaning he joins Wiehahn Herbst, Ricky Lutton and Johnny Simpson on the sidelines.