Anscombe demands opening RaboDirect Pro12 victory from Ulster
Ulster coach Mark Anscombe has challenged his players to kick-start their PRO12 campaign with an all-important win over Glasgow Warriors at Ravenhill on Friday night (kick-off 7.05pm).
The Kiwi has already presided over a three-game unbeaten run during Ulster’s pre-season, but now is when the serious business begins as he oversees his first competitive game since taking over from Brian McLaughlin.
“This is what it’s all about,” Anscombe said looking ahead to Friday night’s clash.
“The challenge for us is to get on with it. I think the guys are really ready for it and it’s always nice to start a competition with a win under your belt.”
Even though Anscombe is still without a raft of frontline players — due to injury, the Ireland player management programme and Ruan Pienaar’s Springbok involvement — the coach seems committed to continue with largely the same looking side which has featured so far in the friendlies.
“We have 14 guys either injured or unavailable so we need those guys to step up and they are taking it which is a positive,” Anscombe added.
“They will be given opportunities if they perform and I think they are starting to believe that could possibly happen.
“If we can improve on that (the pre-season form) and in front of a full house on Friday that is the sort of kick-start the boys will want.”
Tom Court, Darren Cave and Paul Marshall have all been named in Friday’s squad though, as all three have yet to play, they seem likely to be on the bench.
As for the other big name players, Anscombe reckoned he is still a few weeks off having his strongest-looking line-up available for action.
“It is slowly happening,” he said.
“Next week there could be two more. Tommy Bowe and Stephen Ferris would be able to play now if they were fit.
“Chris Henry and Dan Tuohy are a couple of weeks away, Paddy Wallace, Roger Wilson and Iain Henderson will be back around October and Rory Best could be back for round four (PRO12).”