Brian McLaughlin has named a 32 man squad as Ulster return to action on Saturday against Treviso in the RaboDirect PRO12 (Stadio Monigo, kick off 3.15pm GMT).
After a two week break, McLaughlin is able to recall Darren Cave and captain Johann Muller to the squad after theymissed a series of games through injury. Cave (foot) last featured over two months ago in the Heineken Cup win over Leicester and he will be a welcome addition to the midfield. Muller’s previous game was the following week against Clermont Auvergne, before he suffered a calf injury in training.
Ulster will be without rested internationals Rory Best, Andrew Trimble and Stephen Ferris after the trio featured heavily for Ireland in the 6 Nations. Simon Danielli is still struggling with injury and is not fit enough to be named, while Mike McComish is unavailable after suffering concussion during the Edinburgh match earlier this month. Jared Payne and Declan Fitzpatrick also remain sidelined.
There is also a place in the extended squad for Phoenix Academy second row Iain Henderson, who was a key player in the Ireland U20s squad which won four from five in their 6 Nations campaign.
Treviso are without a win in 2012, slipping to seven straight defeats in all competitions since the turn of the New Year. But Ulster will be wary of the threat posed by the Italians, after losing 23-12 to them at home earlier in the season.
Forwards: Callum Black, Tom Court, Adam Macklin, John Afoa, Jerry Cronin, Paddy McAllister, Andi Kyriacou, Nigel Brady, Lewis Stevenson, Dan Tuohy, Johann Muller (captain), Iain Henderson, Tim Barker, Neil McComb, Willie Faloon, Pedrie Wannenburg, Ali Birch, Chris Henry, Robbie Diack
Backs: Paul Marshall, Ruan Pienaar, Ian Porter, Ian Humphreys, Luke Marshall, Ian Whitten, Nevin Spence, Darren Cave, Stefan Terblanche, Craig Gilroy, Conor Gaston, Chris Cochrane, Adam D’Arcy
Unavailable due to injury: Declan Fitzpatrick, Jared Payne, Simon Danielli, Mike McComish
Don’t know where Paddy Wallace has gone but I suspect it’s just a typo from the UR Press Room!
And so begins the rehabilitation of Tom Court, a sad and lonely figure as he arrived back in Dublin on Sunday I believe. I suspect he’ll get a least 40 minutes to work his way back into form at loose head and it’s probably one of the more interesting features of this game as the Italians, who gave us a good working over in the scrum at Ravers earlier this season, will be scenting blood and will be going all out to cause havoc at scrum time!
I see young Henderson has been slipped in amongst the second rows and hopefully he will travel but don’t be surprised if he’s called upon at six or seven instead of four or five.
Delighted to see Muller and Cave back in the squad and as both are the de facto leaders of the forwards and the backs I expect both to start, with Muller beside Tuohy, who has a point to prove, and Cave beside Paddy giving us pretty much our Heineken starting XV with the exception of our rested Irish Internationals.
FRUXXIII: Terbalnche, Cochrane, Cave, Wallace, Gilroy, Humphreys, Pienaar, Court, Kyriacou, Afoa, Muller, Tuohy, Wannenburg, Henry, Diack. Reserves: Brady, Black, McAllsiter, Stevenson, Henderson, Marshall P, Whitten, D’Arcy.