Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has told Nigel Brady to prepare himself for front row action at any moment with first-choice hooker Andy Kyriacou’s partner poised to give birth.
Brady was thrown on for the final 13 minutes of their 28-14 defeat of Glasgow last weekend as the Irish province cruised to victory at Ravenhill in the opening round of the RaboDirect Pro12.
Uncharacteristically for top-flight rugby McLaughlin’s decision to replace Kyriacou with Brady was the only substitution he made all night – in contrast to the eight changes made by the Warriors.
And after admitting his hand wasn’t forced by injury, McLaughlin revealed he’d thrown on Brady in expectation of Kyriacou’s impending absence.
“It was fairly straightforward; we had to get Nigel on the pitch because with Andy’s situation at the moment — his wife is expecting at any second — we don’t know whether he is going to be available as far as this weekend is concerned,” he said.
“We lost two line-outs and one scrum — which was probably our best one of the game — when our communication got a little bit messed up. We just got twisted and got it turned over towards the end.
“But our set piece is improving well and I’m very happy with how it’s progressing, though we’ll get a huge test of where exactly we are when we arrive in Italy this weekend.
Callum Black, a summer signing from Worcester Warriors, is also absent but one tonic for the front row is the return of fellow prop Declan Fitzpatrick in time for their encounter with Aironi.
“Declan came through training yesterday and today and we’re very hopeful that he’ll be available for the weekend if there’s no reaction,” added McLaughlin.