Belfast Telegraph

Magners League: We can’t take Glasgow for granted, says McLaughlin

By Niall Crozier

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has warned his players not to be fooled by Glasgow’s lowly league position.

In tandem with that, he has stressed the need to up their own performance as the race for honours enters the final furlongs.

Tonight Ulster face the Scots in the Magners League at Firhill Stadium (8.05) in a fixture McLaughlin described as being “the first of a run of cup finals”.

After a series of defeats, second-bottom of the table Glasgow finally managed to produce a win last Friday night when they beat Benetton Treviso 25-17.

The much-weakened victors were minus 17 players, six of whom were on duty for Scotland the following day at Murrayfield.

A number of those absentees now are available, however.

“The Scottish sides have suffered dramatically with the Italian sides coming into the Magners League,” McLaughlin pointed out.

“The squads are having to play league games during the autumn series and also during the Six Nations. That’s something we haven’t had to do too much of in the past and I think it has affected them because they’ve got so many people involved in the Scottish team.

“But there’s no doubt now that Glasgow, with their Scottish contingent coming back, are going to be a different kettle of fish.”

With Ulster, for the first time, still active on the Magners League and Heineken Cup fronts in late March, McLaughlin knows they will be required to play to their full potential in each of the season’s remaining games.

He also knows that it will take all of his man-management skills and juggling of resources in order to keep everybody happy.

Tonight is a case in point, with Irish players — prop Tom Court and centre Paddy Wallace — returning to the fray, the latter taking over from Luke Marshall who will miss the rest of the season after breaking a bone in his hand.

Scotland wing Simon Danielli starts, too — in his case at full-back, with Adam D’Arcy dropping to the bench.

Paul Marshall is included at scrum-half after his cameo role against the Dragons, with Ruan Pienaar moving to fly-half.

Conor Gaston is retained on the wing after impressing in his debut last week.

Up front Andi Kyriacou and Declan Fitzpatrick remain in the front row, behind which Irish international lock Dan Tuohy is promoted from the bench to start alongside captain Johann Muller.

The back row is reshuffled once again; Willie Faloon drops down, for with Pedrie Wannenburg named at No 8, Robbie Diack moves to blindside with Chris Henry tonight playing at seven.

Rory Best starts on the bench where Tommy Seymour also is a replacement after his heroics last week. There is no place for fellow-try-scorer Darren Cave, however.

McLaughlin added: “Now it is about trying to keep the routine, trying to make sure that the players are winning and confident so that when we go to Northampton we’re ready to put in the performance we’re going to need.”

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