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Williams to return for Ulster after exclusion

By Michael Sadlier

Ulster's Nick Williams could be back on board for some involvement in Friday night's rearranged PRO12 game with the Scarlets at Ravenhill (kick-off 7.05pm) following the conclusion of the disciplinary procedure which had excluded him from the side's last outing against the Dragons a fortnight ago.

The 30-year-old Kiwi was the focus of an internal probe at Ulster Rugby following what was alleged to be an unauthorised absence last month when the back-rower returned home to New Zealand.

Williams, who was voted PRO12 players' player of the year and Irish players' player when last season's domestic awards were handed out, was not with Mark Anscombe's squad for their narrow win in Treviso on February 23.

Though he returned to Ravenhill that week, he then found himself sidelined for the five-day turnaround required ahead of Ulster's following game which turned out to be the 38-8 thrashing of the Dragons.

His effective suspension had fuelled speculation that the Ravenhill favourite could well have been facing a ban, if not an early exit from Ulster's ranks.

But yesterday, Ulster Rugby issued a brief statement which seemed to draw a line under the issue and open the door to a hopefully fit-again Williams returning to playing duty.

Ulster Rugby's statement said: "Ulster back-row forward, Nick Williams, has returned to training following the conclusion of an internal disciplinary process.

"Ulster Rugby will be making no further comment on the matter."

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