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Ulster Rugby duo in race against clock for Montpellier tie

By Niall Crozier

Ulster are prepared to give captain Johann Muller and Irish and Lions hooker Rory Best every chance to prove their fitness for Friday night's Heineken Cup tie with Montpellier.

Hooker Best broke his right forearm after scoring for Ireland in their memorable November 24 clash with the All Blacks.

Muller's problem is a calf injury originally picked up in Ulster's bonus-point victory over Cardiff Blues on October 25. That injury came back to haunt him last week when the big lock aggravated it in training and missed Friday night's victory over Munster as a result.

Best's fracture was scanned on Monday, since when Ulster have given nothing away about the results. But yesterday coach Mark Anscombe confirmed: "We're hoping he will be cleared. He's keen and he's looking to play so we're just waiting for medical clearance. If he's happy and he gets through a week's training we'll see how it goes."

Regarding Muller, the Ulster coach said: "We're monitoring Johann and being careful with him in what he does in order to give him the best chance of being fit and available."

With one eye on the bigger picture, if there are any doubts neither will be risked ahead of the following weekend's probable winner-takes-all showdown with Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.

Not having played since November 24, clearly Best would like game-time prior to that, for which reason the growing belief is that he will play some part this weekend.

But even if he does not make that first encounter, that will not necessarily rule him out of the second. After all, there is an Anscombe-era precedent with Ulster having brought Tommy Bowe back in the role of a replacement for last April's Heineken Cup quarter-final date with Saracens at Twickenham – his first outing after missing four months with a right knee lateral ligament injury, which required surgery.

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