Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Heineken Cup: Ulster kept busy with running repairs to list of injured

Those responsible for the fitness of the Ulster team have been kept busy this week ahead of Saturday’s Heineken Cup date with Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.

The busiest member of the backroom staff has been head physiotherapist Gareth Robinson.

The former Tottenham Hotspur physio, who joined the Ravenhill staff in 2000, has huge responsibilities which include the management of all injuries.

Last Saturday’s Heineken Cup clash with Clermont at Ravenhill saw him called upon to treat the casualties at the end of what was a particularly bruising battle.

Alongside him was fellow-physio Alan McCaldin. And Dr Michael Webb, Ulster’s medical director, was there to ensure the injured were given the best possible treatment, as was medical co-ordinator Dr David Irwin, the former Ulster, Ireland and Lions centre.

Webb’s role is to ensure the effective running of all aspects of Ulster’s medical department, including physiotherapy, massage and nutrition.

Four of Ulster’s 15 starters failed to go the distance last weekend, though the good news at Tuesday afternoon’s announcement of the 31-man squad for the Leicester game was that each had taken part in training at Newforge.

The first of Saturday’s fallers was full-back Simon Danielli who exited after 56 minutes, with Adam D’Arcy deputising.

Twelve minutes later Ulster withdrew both of their props, Ireland loosehead Tom Court and All Blacks tighthead John Afoa, sending Paddy McAllister and Declan Fitzpatrick into the front row as replacements. The explanation was that they were tiring.

Then with 77 minutes on the clock, there was real concern in the stadium as blindside flanker Stephen Ferris made his exit.

He had been a doubt after going over on an ankle in the previous weekend’s RaboDirect Pro12 inter-pro against Connacht. Indeed, right up until kick-off against Clermont he was receiving treatment from physio Robinson.

Ulster, however, have insisted that Ferris is fine for this weekend’s trip to the Midlands.

Likewise Court, who also was a doubt to face Clermont after a knee injury in the match against Connacht had forced him to limp out of that one after 65 minutes.

He, too, has trained, as has Danielli whose substitution against the French on Saturday evening led to the introduction of D’Arcy, creator of Ian Humphreys’ match-winning try.

And although Afoa will be missing in Leicester, his absence has nothing to do with any fitness problems. He is back in New Zealand to act as best man for his close friend Jerome Kaino, the World Cup-winning flanker.

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