Pedrie Wannenburg has returned to the Ulster squad ahead of Ulster’s must-win RaboDirect PRO12 game against Ospreys at Ravenhill on Friday (kick off 7.05pm).
The South African has recovered from a foot injury which has kept him out for over a month. There is no place in Brian McLaughlin’s 30 man panel for injured captain Johann Muller and centre Darren Cave.
Ireland squad members Dan Tuohy, Paddy Wallace and Chris Henry look set to be available for Ulster despite the 6 Nations game with Italy on Saturday.
Ulster’s three game winning run in the RaboDirect PRO12 ended at the Arms Park against Cardiff Blues on Friday. But the Ulstermen will be happy to return to Ravenhill, where they have suffered just one defeat in their last 17 matches in all competitions.
Ospreys have won three of their last four encounters in the RaboDirect PRO12 and remain in second place in the table. The Welshmen have won all six fixtures they have played against the Irish provinces so far this season and have won their last two games against Ulster.
Forwards: Callum Black, Adam Macklin, John Afoa, Jerry Cronin, Paddy McAllister, Andi Kyriacou, Nigel Brady, Lewis Stevenson, Dan Tuohy, Tim Barker, Neil McComb, Willie Faloon, Chris Henry (capt) Pedrie Wannenburg, Mike McComish, Robbie Diack
Backs: Paul Marshall, Ruan Pienaar, Ian Porter, Ian Humphreys, Luke Marshall, Paddy Wallace, Ian Whitten, Nevin Spence, Stefan Terblanche, Craig Gilroy, Conor Gaston, Chris Cochrane, Simon Danielli, Adam D’Arcy
Unavailable: Declan Fitzpatrick, Jared Payne, Johann Muller, Darren Cave, Ali Birch
I would expect to see pretty much the same team that started against Cardiff on Friday night, with the exception of Wannenburg starting at six and Henry slipping to seven with Faloon benching in place of McComish.
The option of dropping Humphreys is there with P Marshall starting at 9 and Pienaar at 10 with Porter taking up a bench spot but I can’t really see that happening as Humphreys needs to get his game sorted out for the Heineken Cup.
While iHumph has come in for some stick this week it has to be remembered that on his day he is a game changer and he has a better record at Thomond than most other players, destroying the Turnips in the Heineken with Leicester then repeating the feat a few years later with Ulster. The memory of that Ulster 37 -11 win in Thomond still gladdens my heart in dark moments! lol
So, as I say, pretty much same again for Ulster. The only difference you may notice is that some of the players may run out funny on Friday night due to a rather large rocket up there arse for this one.
Won’t be at it as I’m going down to see the Ulster girls down in Ashbourne as they run out for Ireland but I expect Ulster to win this one reasonably comfortably with the chant of “Humphreys for Ireland” echoing round the parades of Onslow as the crowd make their way home after the game!