Ulster hoping for Best boost as injury worries ease
NEWS: IT WAS Tommy Bowe’s first dip back into provincial rugby last weekend and Ulster will be feeling satisfied their league season is on track.
The hope is the Ireland winger’s impact in their 48-19 win over Cardiff and Ulster’s overall performance on an emotional night can carry through to tomorrow night, where coach Mark Anscombe will be keen for captain Rory Best’s scheduled return against Connacht at Ravenhill to bring as much satisfaction.
The Ireland hooker has not played since the Test match against New Zealand on June 23rd, when he injured his groin, but has being named in Anscombe’s preliminary squad.
There is more good news on the injury front as South African and Ulster captain Johann Muller is included after overcoming the niggling injuries which ruled him out of last week’s rout in Wales, while internationals Stephen Ferris and Declan Fitzpatrick also return to the extended 25-man squad.
Ulster have also announced scrumhalf Michael Heaney has signed a new contract that will keep him at the province until the end of the season. A graduate of the Phoenix Ulster Academy, the 21-year-old rejoined Ulster from Doncaster Knights in the summer on an initial four-month contract.
Heaney has represented Ulster at all levels and made his senior debut for the province in a pre-season friendly away to Harlequins in August 2010. He was a member of the Ireland Under-20 squad that won the 2010 Six Nations Championship and also competed in the IRB Junior World Championships later that year.
“I am delighted to be extending my contract with Ulster. It was a great opportunity to have been given the initial four-month contract and I am pleased that I will be able to stay and to continue to represent my province,” he said.
Munster coach Rob Penney will probably name his squad today for the PRO 12 game with Leinster in Dublin on Saturday. Penney and captain Doug Howlett missed squad training on Tuesday in Limerick as they were attending the official launch of the Heineken Cup in Dublin.
One major concern for Penney is the fitness of secondrow Paul O’Connell. The likelihood is if the Irish lock does not play because of a back injury he will also be doubtful for the following week’s opening Heineken Cup match against Racing Metro.
Another issue facing Penney is the red card Damien Varley received in the league game against Ospreys. Varley is due to appear before a Pro12 League Disciplinary Hearing today in Edinburgh. He was shown a straight red card seven minutes from time following an incident in a ruck.
ULSTER – Forwards(14): R Herring, R Best, D Fitzpatrick, J Afoa, T Court, C Black, J Muller, D Tuohy, L Stevenson, S Ferris, M McComish, I Henderson, C Henry, N Williams. Backs(11): P Marshall, M Heaney, N O’Connor, P Jackson, P Wallace, D Cave, L Marshall, A Trimble, T Bowe, C Gilroy, J Payne.