Ahead of tomorrow’s sold out clash against Munster at Ravenhill, Ulster Coach Brian McLaughlin, as expected, has named an entirely changed starting XV from that which was defeated by Leinster at the RDS on Boxing Day.
With two PRO12 derbies within the space of four days, McLaughlin has coached two separate teams for the games and the line-up for this Friday’s match has a much more familiar look to it although Ulster are without a number of players due to injury and a bout of tummy bug in the squad, while the Ireland internationals are also unavailable due to a training camp.
It’s a huge game for it’s at Ravenhill and it’s against Munster. When the fixture list came out we were not very happy with the fact that we had a four day turnaround but we just have to manage the scheduling as best we can.
We want to put our best team out on the pitch as often as we possibly can, but Irish Management Programme looks after the Internationals and we have to look after the rest of the players as well so we took the decision, and it was not taken lightly, to run two separate squads for two games.
Injury to Nevin Spence (ankle), sustained during Ulster’s trip to Aironi sees Ian Whitten recalled to the starting XV for the first time since Ulster faced Treviso at Ravenhill on 7th October, and he will partner Darren Cave in the centre while Stefan Terblanche will make his first starting appearance for Ulster since arriving at the beginning of December. Elsewhere Willie Faloon makes a return to the back row alongside Pedrie Wannenburg and Chris Henry while Callum Black, Ali Birch, Chris Farrell and Peter Nelson, who all made their Ulster debuts against Leinster, are named amongst the replacements.
Ulster Captain Johann Muller is looking forward to the match
It’s a big game and I don’t have to say a lot to lift the guys for it, we all know that the games between Irish provinces are the big games for the team.
This week training has been outstanding, a lot of energy, there’s nothing like a week off to refresh the body and mind and get everyone really keen to play rugby again.
We know what’s coming, we know Munster are an outstanding team but we’re at Ravenhill, we have a great record there and we want to keep it that way.
Munster’s strength is their consistency – it doesn’t matter what tournament they play in, they’re always there or thereabouts. They are a team that never says die, that’s the Munster that I’ve got to know over the last 18 months or so, they are always there and if they don’t win they’ll always get a losing bonus point. Consistency is a key for them, and as a squad it’s something we can learn from.
Ulster: (15-9) Adam D’Arcy, Craig Gilroy, Darren Cave, Ian Whitten, Stefan Terblanche, Ian Humphreys, Ruan Pienaar (1-8) Paddy McAllister, Andi Kyriacou, John Afoa, Johann Muller (C), Dan Tuohy, Pedrie Wannenburg, Willie Faloon, Chris Henry. (16-23) Nigel Brady, Callum Black, Adam Macklin, Louis Stevenson, Ali Birch, Paul Marshall, Chris Farrell, Peter Nelson
Munster: (15-9) D Hurley, L O’Dea, T Gleeson, L Mafi, J Murphy, I Keatley, D Williams. (1-8) W du Preez, D Varley, S Archer, I Nagle, M O’Driscoll (C), Dave O’Callaghan, T O’Donnell, J Coughlan. (16-23) D Fogarty, M Horan, J Ryan, B Holland, P Butler, T O’Leary, S Deasy, W Chambers.
The pantomime season continues with Munster taking their turn to field a rubbish side. Everything is relevant though and with Ulster’s elite deemed unable to play two games in five days, according to the management, this one could well end up a win for the visitors if they show any form of resistance so brutal has been Ulster’s season to date. Oh no it hasn’t! Oh yes it has!
Well, it’s behind us now, and McLaughlin has put all his magic beans in one basket, anything less than a bonus point win for Ulster could see the sturdy beanstalk of World Domination come crashing down around us for another year. Maybe with a bit of luck it could take out the Old Stand and save a bit on planning permission!
In all seriousness, if Ulster are to get anything out of these devalued inter-provincial fixtures they do need to produce something a bit more than a stuttering win. They need to win with a bit of class and flare showing dominance in all areas of the pitch, anything less would be a pantomime!