AFTER A HECTIC festive period of squad rotation, Ulster have recalled four Irish internationals to their starting line-up for tomorrow evening’s Rabodirect Pro12 test against Edinburgh.
A number of Brian McLaughlin’s regulars missed last week’s win over Munster to attend an Ireland training camp, forcing the Ulster coach to name a completely different team for the province’s second interpro clash in the space of four days.
Andrew Trimble, Stephen Ferris, Tom Court and Rory Best all return for tomorrow’s trip to Murrayfield, where Michael Bradley’s men have only lost once in the last seven games.
Best and Court take their places in the front row, replacing Andi Kyriacou and the injured Paddy McAllister, while Stephen Ferris returns to the back row at the expense of Pedrie Wanneburg.
In the backs, Trimble’s inclusion on the right wing sees Craig Gilroy swap over to the left and Stefan Terblanche drop to full back with Adam D’arcy moving to the bench.
“It’s a crucial game for us, not only in terms of the PRO12, but also with Europe in mind next week,” McLaughlin told UlsterRugby.com. ”Edinburgh have been playing well this season and like to play a good brand of rugby, but we will be looking to put in a quality performance and getting the result.”
Ulster have also been boosted by the news that Paddy Wallace is fit enough to take his place among the replacements following a seven-week absence with a thumb injury.
“It’s been great having the internationals back, including Paddy,” McLaughlin added.
It really gives us a boost coming into such important games and they will bring a bit extra to the team tomorrow night. They’re itching to get involved again and we are looking forward to having them back in.
Meanwhile, Bradley has named a vastly changed side from the one which lost 17-12 to the Glasgow Warriors last weekend. Out-half Phil Goodman is the only back to hold on to his place in the starting XV while in the forwards, the all-international front-row of Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford and Geoff Cross return to action.
A win for ninth-placed Edinburgh would see them leapfrog Ulster in eighth and move towards the business end of the Pro12 table, but ahead of next week’s Heineken Cup trip to Racing Metro, Bradley knows that tomorrow is as much about consolidating form as the result.
“This is a huge match for us as a big month for the club continues and, while we’ve acknowledged the long-term importance of our January fixtures, the players and coaches focused fully on the size of the job at hand,” Bradley told the Edinburgh News.
Success tomorrow would clearly give us the winning momentum we desire going into the Heineken Cup however that itself is not the objective. First and foremost this is about winning in the RaboDirect PRO12.
Edinburgh: Paterson; Brown, De Luca, King, Visser; Godman, Laidlaw (c); Jacobsen, Ford, Cross; Cox, Lozada; McInally, Grant, Talei. Replacements: Walker, Traynor, Gilding, Gilchrist, MacDonald, Leck, Scott, Thompson.
Ulster: Terblanche; Trimble, Cave, Whitten, Gilroy; Humphreys, Pienaar; Court, Best, Afoa; Muller (c), Tuohy, Ferris, Henry, Wannenburg. Replacements: Kyriacou, Black, Macklin, Stevenson, Faloon, Marshall, Wallace, D’Arcy.