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Ulster stars face late fitness test ahead of Southern Kings tie

Billy Burns could all be available for the game.
Billy Burns could all be available for the game.
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Three Ulster players are facing late fitness tests ahead of Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 game against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.

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Jack McGrath, Marcell Coetzee and Billy Burns could all be available for the game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium should they come through training unscathed this week.

The province are already without utility back Michael Lowry, who was ruled out of the clash earlier this week with an ankle injury.

Prop McGrath was initially named in the starting line-up for last week’s game against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, only to suffer a toe injury in the warm-up that ruled him out.

Neither Coetzee - who is working back from a long-term ankle injury sustained on Springboks duty - or Burns were due to be involved last week but could come back into the mix against the Kings.

“We’ll wait and find out,” was head coach Dan McFarland’s assessment on all three players. “We’ll make that decision closer to the time.”

One player who won’t be involved, barring injuries elsewhere, is tighthead prop Wiehahn Herbst, who is with the squad as cover during their South Africa trip.

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Herbst is there strictly as cover, with McFarland confirming that, as long as they remain fit, current duo Tom O’Toole and Ross Kane will take the two slots in the matchday squad on Saturday.

“(Herbst) is only acting as cover for us,” confirmed McFarland.

Ulster are looking to bounce back from last week’s harrowing 63-26 defeat to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein against a Kings side they have yet to lose to in their previous four meetings.

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