Brian McLaughlin has named a preliminary 28 man squad in the build up to Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 match versus Aironi at the Stadio Zaffanella (kick off 2pm BST).
Ulster are looking for a second consecutive win to continue their early challenge at the top of the league. After an impressive opening win against Glasgow at the weekend, the Ulster squad will be confident of registering a first away win of the campaign in Italy.
The Ulster management team will perhaps be disappointed that they were unable to gain a four-try bonus point, yet pleased that a number of opportunities were created despite poor handling conditions.
Dan Tuohy returned to competitive action and turned in a tremendous display in the set pieces and especially in the loose. The lively centre partnership of Nevin Spence and Darren Cave was another major positive to be taken from the game.
Aironi have recruited well in the close season and while Ulster will be targeting a win on Saturday, they will be expecting to face a much stiffer challenge than they came up against last season.
The Italians improved throughout the campaign and the 8 losing bonus points they secured demonstrated that they are not an easy team to play.
Forwards: Paddy McAllister, Callum Black, Jerry Cronin, Adam Macklin, Declan Fitzpatrick, John Burns, Andi Kyriacou, Nigel Brady, Lewis Stevenson, Dan Tuohy, Tim Barker, Neil McComb, Michael McComish, Pedrie Wannenburg, Willie Faloon, Chris Henry (capt), Robbie Diack
Backs: Paul Marshall, Ian Porter, Ian Humphreys, Paddy Jackson, Luke Marshall, Nevin Spence, Ian Whitten, Darren Cave, Craig Gilroy, Conor Gaston, Adam D’Arcy.
I suspect that it’ll be similar to the squad that started against Glasgow with maybe some of the bench players starting against what would be considered one of the league’s weaker sides.
Ulster have two objectives from this game, in that they need to give a range of players match time and they should be targeting this game as a strong possibility for a winning bonus point.
Infortunately it doesn’t look as though this one wil be televised anywhere (and believe you me we have tried) but we’ll try and get some form of coverge sorted for Saturday!