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Ulster Announce Squad For Aironi Clash

Ulster Announce Squad For Aironi Clash

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has named a 27-man squad for Friday night’s Heineken Cup Pool 4 opener against Aironi Rugby at Ravenhill (kick-off 7.30pm).

Ulster, who are grouped this season with Aironi Rugby, Bath and Biarritz, get their European campaign underway against the Italian newcomers. Gates at Ravenhill will open at 6pm for the 7.30pm kick-off.

Brian McLaughlin’s extended squad includes South African star Ruan Pienaar, who scored all of the province’s 19 points in their Magners League victory over Glasgow Warriors last weekend.

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Pienaar and his Springbok colleagues, Johann Muller and Pedrie Wannenburg, are poised to make their Heineken Cup debuts.

Joining 22 of the players who were on duty against Glasgow are Ian Humphreys, Ian Porter, BJ Botha, Andi Kyriacou and Ryan Caldwell.

Front rower Botha is making his way back from the wrist injury he sustained in the recent derby draw with Connacht.

Speaking at the Irish launch of the Heineken Cup, Ulster captain Rory Best said: “The big thing for us so far this season has been the tight games. If we’ve been a couple of points up with 10 minutes to go, over the past couple of years more often than not we’d lose that game.

“This season, in the tight games we’ve held on and we’ve got our wins.

“We know we have to go out and get something from every single game, preferably a win and, if not, then at least a point.

“That is especially the case in the Heineken Cup. It’s such an intense competition. Something that we found last season is that one point can make such a vast difference.”

Ulster are bidding to reach the knockout stages for the first time since they were crowned European champions back in 1999. Last season, they missed out on qualification by a single point, to pool winners Stade Francais.

ULSTER Squad (v Aironi Rugby) – Backs (12): David McIlwaine, Jamie Smith, Simon Danielli, Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Ian Whitten, Paddy Wallace, Ian Humphreys, Niall O’Connor, Ruan Pienaar, Paul Marshall, Ian Porter.

Forwards (15): Tom Court, Paddy McAllister, Bryan Young, BJ Botha, Rory Best, Nigel Brady, Andi Kyriacou, Tim Barker, Johann Muller, Ryan Caldwell, Dan Tuohy, Willie Faloon, Robbie Diack, Pedrie Wannenburg, Chris Henry.