Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has named an extended 28-man squad for the province’s Magners League clash with the Newport Gwent Dragons at Ravenhill on Friday (kick-off 7.05pm).
Commenting on the resumption of Ulster’s Magners League programme, head coach Brian McLaughlin said: “It is great to get back to Magners League rugby. This is a really big game for us (against the Dragons), and we are looking forward to playing again at Ravenhill, in front of our fantastic home support.
“This will be our first fixture since our Heineken Cup win away in Bath, at the end of January, so we will have to be very focused and play at our very best to beat this quality Dragons side.
“The supporters in Bath were magnificent, and their role in our victory that day was massive. They lifted us, and kept us going, especially in the final 20 minutes, when we were under huge pressure.
“All of us really appreciated that and hope that we get the same again, come Friday night.”
He added: “The Dragons are on the same league points as us, they have won five and lost five, and they got one over on us in the first game of the season, in Wales, so we owe them one this Friday.
“We must keep the ball in hand and play some strong running rugby. The players have been training hard over the Six Nations break and are eager to get a good match under their belts. It should be a great game.”
The extended Ulster panel includes the likes of fit-again captain Rory Best, Tom Court, Paddy Wallace and Andrew Trimble who all saw action in Ireland’s opening RBS 6 Nations matches.
McLaughlin explained: “We’re hopeful that Rory will be able to play but we’re not sure of it yet. Tom Court is an injury doubt and we’ll see how he comes through training.”
McLaughlin’s men currently sit in sixth place in the Magners League table, with the Dragons occupying seventh position.
The Ulster team and replacements to take on the Welsh region will be announced on Thursday afternoon.
ULSTER Squad (v Newport Gwent Dragons) – Backs (13): Isaac Boss, Cillian Willis, Paul Marshall, Ian Porter, Ian Humphreys, Niall O’Connor, Paddy Wallace, Darren Cave, Ian Whitten, Simon Danielli, Timoci Nagusa, Andrew Trimble, Jamie Smith.
Forwards (15): Tom Court, Bryan Young, BJ Botha, Declan Fitzpatrick, Nigel Brady, Rory Best, Andi Kyriacou, Ryan Caldwell, Dan Tuohy, Ed O’Donoghue, Willie Faloon, David Pollock, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Thomas Anderson.