12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
The two-day tour has been hugely successful as Mark Anscombe and his management team sought to take the senior squad to clubs such as Donegal Town RFC and Strabane to help promote the work that goes on at community and grassroots level.
The visits to the two clubs also let fans see the patterns and drills that the senior players are put though - usually behind closed doors.
Bob Dillon, Secretary of Strabane RFC, said: "Strabane Rugby Club has never had a day as important as this. It was so great to see the players, how they are training, what they are eating and how they approach things. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us.
"There were more than 400 people through the gate and 70 kids playing along with Paddy Wallace and Chris Cochrane. They will never get the chance to do that again."
Bob believes that hosting the Ulster squad is the perfect preparation for Strabane's own season, adding: "This year we are planning for life in Qualifying League 2. We have local derbies against Enniskillen and Omagh so we are looking forward to that. Hopefully we can kick on from this and move forward."
Meanwhile, a day earlier in Donegal, Anscombe put the players through their paces in the unfamiliar but spectacular setting of the club's first team pitch which is situated on the shores of Donegal Bay.
All the players stayed behind after the session to meet fans and to sign autographs. Ulster and Ireland back rower Iain Henderson acknowledged that it is great to support clubs across Ulster.
"It's brilliant. Every year we try and train at a club a bit further from Belfast. Some of our supporters travel two or three hours to Ravenhill to watch us play, so it's great to come up here and to give a little back," said the 21-year-old.
"Hopefully, it will help promote some of the fantastic work that goes on here."
Henderson has six international caps and he believes future Ireland players will be found in clubs like Donegal Town RFC.
"I started at Academy, a junior rugby club. Clubs like Donegal Town and Strabane could have future Ireland internationals in their ranks so it's good to come up and help support the work that they do."
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