ULSTER’S QUEST TO go into the November break unbeaten has been boosted by the release of three Irish squad members.
Stephen Ferris, Craig Gilroy and Paul Marshall have been cleared to return north for this Friday’s game against Edinburgh at Ravenhill.
11 other Ulster players will remain with the Ireland set up as they prepare for the Autumn Internationals against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.
An extra boost for the province comes with the confirmation that Ruan Pienaar will also be available for the league clash, before joining up with the Springboks squad next week.
A statement from Ulster Rugby reads: ”Fellow South African Robbie Diack has recovered from a knee injury and could play his first game the opening weekend of the season.
“Uncapped prop Ricky Lutton, Neil McComb, Niall Annett, Rob Herring and Ali Birch are also added to the extended group of forwards.”
Ravens set for take off
Six of the 12 backs named in the 27-man squad having five caps or less to their name. Michael Heaney, Stuart Olding, Peter Nelson, Mike Allen, Chris Cochrane and Ricky Andrew have all been included.
Allen, 21, is the stand-out of that sextet and has scored two tries in four outings this season. He was injured scoring a try against Cardiff in September but should return to the centre, possibly as partner to Luke Marshall.
Ulster have won all eight of their competitive fixtures this season and will look to extend that run against the Scots, before the competition takes a break for two weeks.
Provisional Ulster squad:
Forwards - Rob Herring, Nigel Brady, Niall Annett, Callum Black, Ricky Lutton, Adam Macklin, John Afoa, Lewis Stevenson, Neil McComb, Mike McComish, Stephen Ferris, Robbie Diack, Ali Birch, Roger Wilson, Nick Williams.
Backs – Paul Marshall, Michael Heaney, Ruan Pienaar, Niall O’Connor, Stuart Olding, Paddy Wallace, Michael Allen, Peter Nelson, Craig Gilroy, Chris Cochrane, Jared Payne, Ricky Andrew.