RaboDirect Pro12: Injured Ulster trio look to be fighting fit for Treviso showdown
After two straight away defeats to Welsh opposition, Ulster’s focus this week is to get back to winning ways when Treviso provide the opposition at Ravenhill on Friday night (kick-off 7.05pm).
Brian McLaughlin’s bid to halt his side’s recent slide looks to have been boosted with the apparent return to fitness of Ian Humphreys, Darren Cave and Jared Payne.
All three players are back at training after receiving treatment last week with Humphreys’ shoulder, Cave’s hamstring and Payne’s dead leg all seem to have responded well enough to bring the players into the selection mix for Friday night.
Humphreys and Cave have not featured since last month’s win over Cardiff Blues while new signing Payne was taken off after suffering a dead leg at the Ospreys, just over a week ago, and missed last Friday night’s defeat at the Dragons.
McLaughlin seems likely to select the trio for the clash with the Italians to bring extra experience and cutting edge to Ulster’s game, even though both Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall have played well at out-half and centre respectively.
Just to further concentrate minds, after this weekend’s fixtures there are no further League games until the end of the month so there is an even more pressing need for McLaughlin’s squad to sign off the season’s first segment of six outings with a win.
One plus point that came out of last Friday’s 22-9 defeat to the Dragons was that there appear to be no fresh injury concerns.
Meanwhile, the currently fifth-placed squad should also be boosted soon by the return of winger Simon Danielli following Scotland’s exit from the World Cup.
He seems likely to return to training in the next few weeks and will hopefully be available for Ulster’s next League game after Treviso which is another trip to Wales against the Scarlets on October 29.
However, Ulster could shortly be another player down should either Andi Kyriacou or Nigel Brady receive a call-up to go to New Zealand to provide cover if Rory Best is ruled out of the World Cup.
Both Ulster hookers are clear candidates, along with Munster’s Denis Fogarty, should Best’s sprained AC joint in his right shoulder end his involvement.