Understrength Ulster facing a massive challenge

Les Kiss’s side missing some big names as they take on Leinster at the RDS

Even though Ulster are expected to be without international trio Rory Best, Iain Henderson and Paddy Jackson for the New Year's Eve interpro with Leinster, it appears fellow Ireland front-liner Andrew Trimble is likely to be in action at the RDS.

The Ireland winger has been sidelined since picking up a foot injury in Ireland’s final autumn international against Australia and Saturday looks set to see him make only his third appearance of the season for the province when they visit an unhappy hunting ground where they have only won once – in 2013 – since the turn of the century.

With such a grim record in south Dublin – which includes losing four PRO12 knockout games – and Leinster expected to be close to full strength for the sides’ last game of 2016, it was little wonder Ulster appeared more downbeat than usual over the task that lies ahead.

They will be skippered by hooker Rob Herring – who comes in for Best – as it was explained that, if involved, Trimble, who is the team's joint captain, will be merely focusing on his own game after his spell out of action.


Secondrow Peter Browne looks likely to be part of the squad after suffering a concussion in the Champions Cup defeat at Clermont but one player definitely not making the trip is tight-head prop Wiehahn Herbst.

He picked up a calf issue in the aftermath of last Friday's home win over Connacht so Rodney Ah You will be wearing the number three shirt.

Massive challenge


Les Kiss

, there was no denying the trip south represents a massive challenge for his squad. But, when not heaping praise on Leinster’s power and formidable record against pretty much all teams who visit the RDS, the Australian stressed Ulster are travelling in a positive mindset.

“Look we will go out there and give it a shot,” he said.

“They are going to be loaded and, when you look through it, it is hard to find the space where you can pry them open or make them work harder.

“They have got some really supreme athletes, guys with massive experience in Europe and internationally and it all comes into a melting point that makes it look difficult [for us] that is for sure.

“They are a tough, tough proposition,” Kiss added.

Ulster will be hoping to utilise Trimble alongside Tommy Bowe and Charles Piutau in an attack-minded back three with Darren Cave expected to get a rare start alongside Stuart McCloskey in midfield.

Ruan Pienaar could even be deployed at outhalf for Saturday but the key to Ulster’s plans will be how their pack goes against what is expected to be a Leinster eight top-heavy with internationals.

“We are going to try and win for sure, that is what we want to get out of it,” said Kiss though Ulster have only managed two victories on the road this season.

“Hopefully we have the mindset to go down there to deliver. We just have to make sure we are acutely aware of what we have in front of us,” he added.