Ravenhill stars have incentive to succeed, says Bell
Win, lose or draw against Munster in Limerick on Saturday night (6.30pm), Ulster are in the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs.
And while they do not know for certain who will provide the opposition in their semi-final, it will be a big surprise if it is not Leinster, the current table-toppers and defending champions.
With this weekend being the final round of league-stage matches, Ulster are unable to change things with regard to their finishing position; they are fourth.
Those finishing fourth travel to first, of course, and the order of the trio above them – Leinster, Glasgow Warriors and Munster who lie first, second and third respectively – could change, depending on the outcome of their round 22 fixtures in which Leinster host Edinburgh while Glasgow entertain Zebre.
The bookmakers expect home wins in those two matches – and another at Munster's Thomond Park fortress. Ulster will use the opportunity to give players like Dan Tuohy and Callum Black much-needed game-time following their recent injury woes.
Loose-head Black, who has recovered from an ankle injury, took over when Tom Court was sent off in the 16th minute of Friday night's Ravenhill date with Leinster. Tuohy, too, joined the fray from the bench for what was his first run since undergoing surgery on a left-hand injury in the aftermath of the Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat by Saracens.
Both will start in Limerick on Saturday night, as will Craig Gilroy.
Ulster defence coach Jonathan Bell admitted: "On the leader-board there are no ramifications whether we win or lose. We're the fourth-placed team at the end of the regular season and that can't change. And as things stand it's looking very like we're going to be away to Leinster in our semi-final.
"Munster will be aiming to get a bonus-point win in the hope that Glasgow slip up against Zebre. In terms of where they are in the league, Munster can improve their position, whereas we can't. However, there is a personal pride perspective, plus the fact that it's an inter-pro and there are Irish selection issues at stake.
"So although the result is largely irrelevant, all of those other things mean it's a big game for us. We want to take a bit of momentum into the semi-final.
"Whoever is playing will have pride in the jersey so they will want to make a statement."