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Henry and Afoa come in for Ulster

Guinness PRO12 Editor

19 May 2012

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin revealed Chris Henry is raring to go after the flanker was passed fit for the all RaboDirect PRO12 Heineken Cup final at Twickenham on Saturday.

Henry was Ulster’s only real doubt with an ankle injury but McLaughlin describes him as 100% for the showdown with Irish rivals Leinster.

McLaughlin also recalls prop John Afoa after his four-match ban for his tackle on Munster’s Felix Jones while he retains faith in young fly-half Paddy Jackson with the experienced Ian Humphreys having to make do with a place on the bench.

Henry is bound to have his hands full against Leinster wrecking balls Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heasliip but McLaughlin says he is ready for the challenge.

"He has trained all week and we are happy with his progress. He is ready to go, 100% fit, and we are very happy about that," said McLaughlin.

"It is great that both teams are at nearly full-strength, and it is a long time since that happened when we have faced each other.

"It should be a fantastic occasion and a great game. The boys are ready. We have had a great couple of weeks leading into it.

"We feel there is an opportunity waiting for us and it is important we show what we are capable of."

While Leinster are bidding to become only the second team to capture back-to-back Heineken Cups, Ulster are in their first final since 1999 and the first for captain Rory Best who made it clear they were full of self-belief despite their role as underdogs.

"We have never been to a Heineken Cup final before but there is a lot of big-game experience in the squad.

"We have come through the Munster and Edinburgh games, where we were underdogs for one and favourites for the other.

“This why we play rugby, for these massive games. You need to embrace every second of that because it doesn't last forever. We have great belief when you look at the calibre of players in our squad. We fully deserve to be here. We are a good team and we just need to show that."

Ulster: S Terblanche, A Trimble, D Cave, P Wallace, C Gilroy, P Jackson, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, J Afoa, J Muller (cpt), D Tuohy, S Ferris, C Henry, P Wannenburg.

Replacements: N Brady, P McAllister, D Fitzpatrick, L Stevenson, W Faloon, P Marshall, I Humphreys, A D'Arcy.