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Anscombe to get Ulster's big guns fired up

By Niall Crozier

Ulster's players are becoming accustomed to new coach Mark Anscombe’s demands and expectations.

Most of the province’s full-international players, plus those who competed for Ireland at under-20 level in the junior World Championships are back on board having missed the first four weeks of pre-season training in which the emphasis has been on developing the basics.

Anscombe admitted the some-present, others-not situation has been far from perfect. In addition, injuries and post-operative recuperation have denied him the service of others.

The New Zealander said: “It’s a little bit frustrating in that it is a jagged start for so many players, but it will be nice having close to our full contingent of the squad together this week.

“With injuries and operations we’ve still got a few players not here. The likes of Paddy (Wallace), Stephen (Ferris) and Tom (Court) have all had operations so we’ve got to be careful with how we ease them back into training.”

That said, Anscombe is pleased with the players’ reaction to what he has asked of them thus far.

“We are getting our patterns in place, working on the fundamentals and developing things that I think we need to do more effectively,” he said.

“We are trying to develop the players bit by bit without making it a total overload of information.

“We’re getting there, the players have been working hard for the past four weeks and I’ve been pleased with their progress.

“They seem to be picking it up easily enough at the minute; we’re looking at keeping it simple to start with and build as a group.”

Highlighting the positive contribution made by some of Ulster’s emerging players, Anscombe added: “Guys like Callum Black, Paddy McAllister, Adam Macklin, John Burns and Niall Annett are all training well, Ali Birch and Robbie Diack have too.

“These guys are here every day and enjoying the work. They’ve shown a good attitude; how they transfer that into playing will be the important thing.”

And looking forward to the return of starlets who have been absent up to this point he said: “The under 20s are back this week so it will give us a chance to look at Iain Henderson, Peter Nelson, Chris Farrell, Stuart Olding and see what we’ve got.”

Meanwhile, Ulster will be launching their new Kukri home and away kits next Tuesday evening (7pm) at Ravenhill’s Premium Lounge (July 31).

The launch will provide supporters with an opportunity to welcome new signings Tommy Bowe, Roger Wilson, Niall O’Connor and Rob Herring. Established Ulster stars Ruan Pienaar, John Afoa, Jared Payne and Robbie Diack also will be in attendance.

There will be a Q &A session with the new players and season ticket holders will have the opportunity to purchase the new shirt using a 10% discount from Kukri, the manufactuers.

Season tickets and pre-season friendly tickets are still available: call 02890493222 or email |tickets@ulsterrugby.com.

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