Welcome to The North Terrace - the place where rugby fans get to give their views on anything and everything about rugby.
We will feature regular submissions from members of the Irish Rugby Supporters Club ahead of big games throughout the season.
To kick things off we asked one Ulster member to give us his thoughts about how Ulster will do. Will they defend their title?
Over to Chris Nolan:
Obvious hopes for this season is the retention of the league title, hard to do for the reason of flying under most teams' radar for the vast majority of last year, even towards the end we were still written off by a lot of other sides. It'll be interesting to see how affected we will be by the Autumn series & 6N selections compared to Leinster and Munster, I believe we will lose Neil Best, Andrew Trimble, Issac Boss,Paddy Wallace and Rory Best we could also possibly lose Tommy Bowe, Roger Wilson and if an opportunity arises Andrew Maxwell.
On the plus side we have a settled team with a successful season under their belts and another years experience, it will prove crucial if things are tight at the end of the season that Ulster's youthful squad know how to see out a tough season earning tough points along the way. In addition our summer signings are here to provide quality cover for the aforementioned Irish squad members, not to mention David Humphreys availability since his international retirement.
...Paddy Wallace in action for Ireland A in The Churchill Cup...
My great hope for Ulster (and Ireland) this year is that DH will ease Paddy Wallace into the 10 spot, Wallace has a great eye and can read a defence well and the Churchill Cup showed where he can improve as a player, his place kicks impressed me and I'm sure working exclusively with David Humphreys will bring him on at a great pace in time for next years World Cup as back up to Ronan O'Gara.
In summary, we can do it, I think we stand the best chance out of all the Irish sides due to the fact that if you subtract all of the Irish internationals Ulster have the strongest and most talented squad (well you would say that Chris - Ed.), and we all saw how vital that proved last year in seeing off Leinster. And if we don't my bet is Cardiff.
Phew! Can't wait for tomorrow and Llanelli at Ravers!!
Our thanks to Chris for his contribution. If you would like to contribute to The North Terrace then sign up to the Supporters Club today!
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