Belfast Telegraph

RaboDirecct Pro12: Ulster's big guns back to have crucial impact

By Niall Crozier

With Wales playing Australia tomorrow at the Millennium Stadium, Ulster have been given a helping hand in tonight’s crunch match against Scarlets, who have lost five to national service.

But unlike his opposite number, Nigel Davies, Ulster coach, Brian McLaughlin (below), is able to include most of his international stars.

Rory Best and Stephen Ferris are restored to the pack following their week off under the Player Management Programme, as is John Afoa, who is back after performing the best man’s duties for fellow-All Black, Jerome Kaino, in New Zealand.

And significantly, Ruan Pienaar — hero of last season’s league double against Scarlets — could play a part in what would be his first game since Ulster lost to tonight’s opponents on October 29 in Llanelli.

But one international who misses out is Scotland wing, Simon Danielli, whose place has gone to Craig Gilroy. “Having John (Afoa) back is great. Hopefully he will have as big an impact as he did in his first two appearances for the club,” McLaughlin said.

“With Stevie, Rory, and Chris coming into the pack, it will give us a real lift. Ruan has trained this week and has come through okay, so if we need to give him some game time, then we will.

“Craig [Gilroy] is an up-and-coming prospect, who gives us a lot of energy on the pitch and has done really well for us. It’s a tough call on Simon, but we tried him at 15 and we feel Adam D’Arcy, as a regular fullback, is the best option for this game.

“We are looking forward to getting out in front of our home crowd, performing like we know we can and getting our PRO12 campaign back on track.”

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