Ulster have today announced the capture of South African international Arno Botha, who will move to Belfast following the conclusion of the 2017 Super Rugby campaign. He will join the province on a two-year deal.
Ulster found themselves all but eliminated from the European Champions Cup at the end of a pulsating encounter at Sandy Park where two tries from Charles Piutau and one from Sean Reidy fell short of taming a rampant Exeter Chiefs side.
Ulster have struggled for results of late, winning just two of their last six GUINNESS PRO12 matches, so getting the better of fellow play-off chasers the Scarlets would give Les Kiss' men a serious boost at the start of 2017.
Ruan Pienaar sustained a right knee injury during Ulster's GUINNESS PRO12 derby defeat to Leinster and will see a specialist this week to decide on further management. He will be unavailable for selection this week.
A solid display from Ulster, which included tries in each half from Stuart McCloskey and Clive Ross, saw Les Kiss' men run out 16-point winners over an injury-stricken Connacht side at Kingspan Stadium tonight.
The first of the festive interprovincial derbies sees Ulster entertain Connacht at a sold-out Kingspan Stadium where Les Kiss' men have only lost one of their last nine fixtures. Conversely, Pat Lam's side have not won away from home in the GUINNESS PRO12 since March.
With just five days between fixtures, Les Kiss has taken the opportunity to introduce six new faces into Ulster's starting line-up for the sold-out GUINNESS PRO12 derby match against Connacht at Kingspan Stadium on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm).
Derby games will make the headlines in the coming days as the next GUINNESS PRO12 'Big Weekend' takes place across Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The traditional rivalries always add to the intensity and many of the teams are going into this round off the back of some strong form in Europe.
While Sean Reidy's disappointment at the Champions Cup defeat in Clermont was hard to hide, he insists that the Ulster squad must respond in a positive way when they host Connacht in next Friday's sold-out GUINNESS PRO12 clash at Kingspan Stadium.