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Best is raring to bounce back in wake of horror tackle

By Michael Sadlier

Mark Best will start for Ulster 'A' tonight in their British and Irish Cup clash with a Cardiff Premiership Select at Eaton Park (kick-off 7.00pm) less than a week after shipping a horror tackle at the same venue.

The Ulster squad member has also spoken for the first time of the incident which saw him taken to hospital in the wake of being dumped to the ground while playing for Ballymena against Buccaneers in the AIL.

The game was held up for over half an hour until the centre was removed in an ambulance and, thankfully, the 22-year-old was later released from hospital without having suffered any ill-effects though a video of the incident - which saw the Buccs player controversially shown just a yellow card - has been widely circulated since.

"Everything was fine and I was OK at the time," Best said of the incident.

"I got up and there was a pain in my shoulder, and a worry about a fracture, but there was nothing.

"I had a few x-rays and it was all clear and I'm raring to go this week. I remember everything. I wasn't unconscious, or concussed, I got cleared out of a ruck and he was holding me by the leg and I tried to shake him off," he added.

Best plays alongside Rory Butler in the Ulster 'A' midfield as the side coached by Kieran Campbell and Willie Anderson bid to stay in touch with pool leaders London Scottish in the first of the province's back-to-back meetings with bottom side Cardiff.

It's a youthful-looking Ulster 'A' who return to B&I Cup action after opening with a win over Jersey Reds at Shaws Bridge before a bonus point defeat followed at 'Scottish'.

Second-placed Ulster have Rob Lyttle on one wing and Jack Owens on the other, with the latter making a welcome return after a lengthy time out with injury.

Up front, a vacancy has been left at loose-head prop while an entirely new engine room of Stephen Mulholland and Connor Smyth is paired together. The side is led by hooker John Andrew.

"We'll look for the two wins first of all but bonus points would be really helpful in terms of winning the group and it would put London Scottish under pressure," added Best.

Ulster A: J McPhillips, R Lyttle, R Butler, M Best, J Owens, B Herron, D Shanahan; TBC, J Andrew (capt), J Simpson, C Smith, S Mulholland, N Timoney, C Joyce, L Dow

Subs: J Murphy, T O'Hagan, J McCusker, Z McCall, J Stewart, D Busby, C Patterson

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