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Euro blow as Best is ruled out of Ulster's crunch tie

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster have been forced to travel to London without their skipper Rory Best ahead of tomorrow's crucial Champions Cup clash with Harlequins (1pm kick-off).

Having won one and lost one in Europe so far, the province need to put their unconvincing Guinness PRO14 form behind them and make a statement against the English side over the next two weeks, but will be without their talisman thanks to an infected cut on his ankle.

The 35-year-old had been expected to make his second Ulster start of the season at the Twickenham Stoop, but he was scratched from the line-up yesterday with Rob Herring coming into the side in his place and John Andrew promoted to the bench.

"He was fine earlier in the week but unfortunately it's become bad in the last day or two and we're just not able to get him on that foot," revealed Director of Rugby Les Kiss yesterday.

"We've had to rule him out. Rob Herring has done a good job all year and had a good Test match for Ireland recently. John Andrew is really growing as a back-up, and has been fighting to get into that starting team too, so we're covered."

Kiss can at least recall both Iain Henderson, who will be captain in Best's absence, and Jacob Stockdale for a first time since their exploits in the Irish jersey against the Springboks and Argentina in November.

"The opportunity is there to do something strong and make a statement at Quins," said Kiss. "But it will not be easy. We are going to have to dig into our resources and it's a short turnaround to next week."

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