John Afoa, Stephen Ferris and Rory Best have all been named in the extended Ulster squad ahead of Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 derby match against Connacht at Ravenhill (kick-off 5.35pm).
Head coach Brian McLaughlin has announced a 31-man squad for the interprovincial derby which comes just a week before the start of the Heineken Cup.
The extended squad boasts a full deck of international players this week including Ireland Rugby World Cup players Rory Best and Stephen Ferris, who were rested last week as part of the IRFU’s player management programme.
New Zealand prop John Afoa is also in the mix. He will jet into Belfast on Wednesday and is set to feature during Saturday’s match at some stage.
Ulster announced last March that Afoa would be joining the province on a two-and-a-half year contract following the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup.
Since joining the Auckland Blues in 2004, he has made over 100 Super Rugby appearances. He has represented New Zealand at Schools, Under-19 and Under-21 levels and in 2005 made his senior debut for the All Blacks against Ireland.
The 28-year-old’s most recent international appearance was against Argentina in the Rugby World Cup last month when Graham Henry’s men triumphed 33-10.
Tickets for Saturday’s interpro clash are still available, and can be purchased from www.ulsterrugby.com or the Ravenhill Ticket Office on 028 9049 3222. Gates open at 4pm.
ULSTER Squad (v Connacht) – Backs (13): Ruan Pienaar, Paul Marshall, Ian Porter, Ian Humphreys, Paddy Jackson, Paddy Wallace, Ian Whitten, Nevin Spence, Darren Cave, Andrew Trimble, Craig Gilroy, Simon Danielli, Adam D’Arcy.
Forwards (19): Tom Court, John Afoa, Paddy McAllister, Adam Macklin, Callum Black, Andi Kyriacou, Nigel Brady, Rory Best, Johann Muller, Tim Barker, Lewis Stevenson, Dan Tuohy, Neil McComb, Chris Henry, Robbie Diack, Mike McComish, Pedrie Wannenburg, Willie Faloon, Stephen Ferris.