Ruan Pienaar passed fit for Ulster

Scrumhalf had been nursing a shoulder injury but will face Saracens tomorrow evening

Ruan Pienaar is expected to resume the goal-kicking duties against Saracens.

Ruan Pienaar is expected to resume the goal-kicking duties against Saracens.

 

Ulster scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar will return for tomorrow evening’s home Heineken Cup quarter-final against Saracens (kick-off 6.30pm). Pienaar had been suffering from an unspecified shoulder injury that has kept him off the pitch for two matches, but his return should galvanise an Ulster side seeking revenge over the English side for last year’s defeat at the same stage.

Pienaar will partner Paddy Jackson in the half backs with the Springbok expected to resume the goal-kicking duties. Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble occupy the wing berths, Luke Marshall will partner by Darren Cave in the centres with Jared Payne remaining at full-back.

Up front, Stephen Ferris does not make the starting line-up, with coach Mark Anscombe keeping the flanker in reserve as he prefers a back row of Roger Wilson, Nick Williams and Chris Henry.

There are four Ireland internationals on the bench with Stephen Ferris, Iain Henderson, Craig Gilroy and Paul Marshall, joined by Rob Herring Ricky Lutton, Robbie Diack and Andrew Warwick.

For Saracens, Owen Farrell comes back into the side from the team that beat London Wasps last weekend whle Mako Vunipola starts in the front row.

And while the loosehead prop paid tribute to Ulster as a quality side, he will be heading to Ravenhill full of confidence.

“We are feeling confident as a side and we are enjoying our rugby,” Vunipola said this afternoon. “We’re well placed in the league and had a some good results leading up this weekend.

“Ulster are a quality side and have been for the last couple of years so there’s a lot to look out for. They have quality players all over and work extremely hard. I think they’re set piece is one of the best in this year’s competition.

“I can’t wait to experience Ravenhill. It’s one of the finest rugby stadiums and the crowd are very passionate. Ulster feed off that so we know that will make the job harder but we’re excited at the same time.”

Ulster: J Payne; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, T Bowe, P Jackson, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, J Afoa; J Muller, D Tuohy; R Wilson, C Henry, N Williams. Replacements: R Herring, A Warwick, R Lutton, I Henderson, S Ferris, R Diack, P Marshall, C Gilroy.

Saracens: A Goode; C Ashton, D Taylor, B Barritt, D Strettle ; O Farrell, R Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, S Brits, J Johnston; S Borthwick, M Botha; B Vunipola, J Burger, E Joubert. Replacements: J George, R Barrington, M Stevens, E Sheriff, K Brown, N de Kock, C Hodgson, C Wyles.

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