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 match promises to be abundant in skill and played at a break neck pace. Players on both sides will enter the 'battle' knowing a good performance will enhance their prospects of making the full international XV.
The Kiwis, under the tutelage of former Blackrock player John Mitchell, arrive into Belfast this morning. Much has been made of Mitchell's 30 strong squad, which boldly includes eleven newcomers. Moreover, sixteen of the squad play for all-conquering Canterbury, recent winners of the National Provincial Championship and past winners of the much celebrated Super 12 competition.
Despite the omission of Jeff Wilson, Christian Cullen, and ex-All Black captain Taine Randell from the squad, Coach Mitchell has named his squad with the dual purpose on returning home "with a flawless record," and to bear in mind the 2003 Rugby World Cup tournament. Furthermore, Mitchell commented, "We've tried to do a balancing act. The tour will provide an opportunity to assess many players and see who has the qualities to move on!"
Munster's Declan Kidney will again be coaching the Ireland A side, assisted by Niall O'Donovan and they will be hoping to build on the 'current high,' which permeates Irish rugby after excellent provincial and international performances. The Irish team can be assured of vocal support from a Ravenhill crowd, which has been feed on a diet of success this season with Ulster delivering heroic performances, most recently against Stade Francais in the Heineken Cup.
The Ireland side will be captained by Brian O'Meara and is loaded with seven senior internationals, a Lion and a host of up and coming youngsters bursting to impress the national selectors.
Tickets may be purchased from the Ulster Branch at Ravenhill, SS Moores, Athletic Stores, Eurosports in Lisburn or Ticket Master on Telephone: 0870 243 4455:
Grandstand #15 (no concession) - ONLY Blocks A & E.
Aquinas Stand #10 (no concession).
Promenade and Terracing tickets cost #10 for adults and #5 concession (Under 16s).