Six World Cup players will make a welcome return to the Ulster squad ahead of their RaboDirect PRO12 match against the Scarlets on Saturday (kick off 3pm).
Brian McLaughlin has included Tom Court, Paddy Wallace, Andrew Trimble, Johann Muller, Ruan Pienaar and Simon Danielli in his provisional squad as Ulster prepare for the crunch encounter at Parc y Scarlets. Rory Best and Stephen Ferris are rested as part of a player management programme implemented post-World Cup.
Court, Wallace and Trimble received limited game time as Ireland exited at the quarter final stage and returned to training with their province this week. South Africa were knocked out on the same weekend, with Pienaar and Muller playing periphery roles towards the end of their campaign. Muller has recovered from a hamstring injury sustained during the tournament and is likely to take the Ulster captaincy for Saturday’s game.
Luke Marshall is not considered after fracturing his jaw in a club game two weeks ago, while Jerry Cronin has suffered a neck injury and is due to get a scan.
The players return at the perfect time for Ulster, who have tasted defeat in their previous three league games. The leadership of Johann Muller will be vital in improving Ulster’s recent discipline and set piece difficulties.
Ulstermen have lost their last two encounters with Welsh opponents, against Ospreys and Dragons in Round 4 and 5 respectively. Last season Ulster achieved the double over Scarlets for the first time in this competition, and that proved to be a significant factor in them earning a play-off place. The Scarlets have a poor record against Irish provinces in recent times, losing all of their previous 10 matches.
Ulster Squad Forwards
Paddy McAllister, Callum Black, Tom Court, Adam Macklin, Declan Fitzpatrick, Andi Kyriacou, Nigel Brady, Lewis Stevenson, Johann Muller, Dan Tuohy, Tim Barker, Neil McComb, Michael McComish, Pedrie Wannenburg, Willie Faloon, Chris Henry, Robbie Diack
Ulster Squad Backs
Paul Marshall, Ruan Pienaar, Ian Porter, Ian Humphreys, Paddy Jackson, Paddy Wallace, Nevin Spence, Ian Whitten, Darren Cave, Craig Gilroy, Simon Danielli, Andrew Trimble, Conor Gaston, Peter Nelson, Adam D’Arcy
Unavailable due to injury:
Luke Marshall – jaw (3-5 weeks), Jerry Cronin – neck, Jared Payne – achilles (long term injury)
Unavailable due to World Cup recovery:
Stephen Ferris, Rory Best