“Cheeky Boy” Tuohy and “Phat Chad” Henry have been released from IRFU purgatory and join the list of players available for this Friday’s match against the Turnips.
Housewives Favourite, Robbie Diack, is still struggling to overcome a leg injury and is joined on the unavailable list by Rory Best, Paddy McAllister, Tommy Bowe, Roger Wilson, Paddy Wallace and Ruan Pienaar. Rory getting a bit of extra rest, Wilson and Bowe being short term injuries, McAllister a very long term injury and Pienaar involved with South Africa until October. Farrell and Annett appear to have dropped out of the early season reckoning and Henderson is still coming back from injury.
This leaves a 26 man squad as follows:
FORWARDS: Rob Herring, Nigel Brady, Declan Fitzpatrick, Callum Black, Tom Court, John Afoa, Lewis Stevenson, Neil McComb, Johann Muller, Dan Tuohy, Mike McComish, Stephen Ferris, Chris Henry, Sean Doyle, Nick Williams. BACKS: Paul Marshall, Michael Heaney, Niall O’Connor, Paddy Jackson, Luke Marshall, Darren Cave, Michael Allen, Craig Gilroy, Andrew Trimble, Peter Nelson, Jared Payne.
I expect McComb and McComish to drop out this week to accommodate the return of Tuohy and Henry and I have a fancy that Nelson may get a chance from the bench at the expense of Allen.
It’s always difficult to predict the team for an Interpro at the beginning of the season, as these tend to be heavily influenced by the IRFU, and while this game is unlkely to decide where either of these sides end up this season it is one that is more important to Ulster than Munster.
This match gives Ulster a chance to make a statement of intent. It’s a mediocre Munster side, by their own high standards, with only their tenacity distinguishing their performances, and if Ulster are to push on from the perceived success of last season they should look to win this one with something to spare.
However, despite their two wins, Ulster have been pretty mediocre themselves and have similarly been relying on tenacity to see them through so I’d like to see a bit more from the home side and I’d particularly like to see them win this one with a bit of style. The forwards have been standing up but our back line attacking play has been disappointing and rather predictable. Nelson has consistently played what’s in front of him and is confident enough to back himself rather than blindly commit to pre planned moves so for this reason I think he’ll get a late run.
With the strategy expected to be to out-muscle the Turnips from the get go and plan to cut loose in the second half, my team selection would be as follows:
FRUXXIII: Payne, Gliroy, Cave, Marshall L, Gilroy, Jackson, Marshall P, Afoa, Brady, Court, Muller, Stevenson, Ferris, Henry, Williams. Bench: Herring, Fitzpatrick, Black, Tuohy, Doyle, Heaney, O’Connor, Nelson.