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McLaughlin: Reaching Play-Offs Is A Long Shot

McLaughlin: Reaching Play-Offs Is A Long Shot

After last weekend’s historic Heineken Cup semi-final win over Edinburgh, Ulster have turned their attentions back to the RaboDirect PRO12 and Saturday’s trip to Thomond Park to take on provincial rivals Munster.

Previewing the round 22 fixture, Ulster head coach Brian McLaughlin said: “The mood in the camp has been fantastic this week. We are back in training and the standard has been high as we prepare for Munster on Saturday.

“It is always a difficult place to go and Munster will put everything into winning the PRO12. It is another vital match for us.”

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Going into the last round of league fixtures, Ulster need to register a bonus point win and hope that Glasgow Warriors and the Scarlets pick up nothing from their games if they are to reach the league play-offs for the second successive year.

McLaughlin is fully aware that their chances of progression are slim, admitting: “We have to be honest, it’s a long shot now with one game remaining.

“But we did a great job in Limerick a few weeks ago in the quarter-final and we will approach the game with the same mindset.

“We have proved Ulster can do a job no matter where we play. We need to get a win and hope that other results are favourable so it’s not ideal.”

Chris Henry, who suffered an ankle injury against Leinster two weeks ago, is once again ruled out of contention for Saturday’s interprovincial tie.

With captain Johann Muller, Stephen Ferris and place-kicking scrum half Ruan Pienaar picking up knocks in the Edinburgh clash, the Ulster boss says some changes are expected to the team to play Munster.

“There’s no way Chris will be fit this weekend, he’s improving greatly but there is still a little bit to go. Quite a few of the others have plenty of bumps and bruises after a very physical game against Edinburgh.

“We are very happy with the injury list – it’s not as bad as it could be. The team will depend on how fit people are.

“We will continue to assess people and get the final injury reports before selection. A number of players have played a lot of rugby this year so it’s important they are managed well.”