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Ulster v Munster: I can't wait to cut my shackles loose, says Herring

By Michael Sadlier

He's not for putting up a smokescreen when addressing what he wants from tomorrow night at the Kingspan as Rob Herring has waited long enough and is now champing at the bit to play.

Without a start since the end of September, Ulster's joint-skipper is eager to make an impression and, with Rory Best seemingly redeployed ahead of next weekend's first Autumn Test with New Zealand in Chicago, the next three PRO12 games - Munster tomorrow (7.05pm), Edinburgh next week and Zebre at the end of the month - are occasions when Herring wants to make himself highly visible again.

Having to make way when Best has been available this time around has been hard. After all, the last three games have seen him sprung from the bench late on with the European games against Bordeaux-Begles and last Friday's clash with Exeter Chiefs actually seeing him brought in as a flanker.

Being ushered onto the side of the scrum is not unfamiliar to the Irish-qualified South African and even his one cap for Ireland in the dying minutes of 2014's second Test in Argentina was as an emergency wing forward.

But none of that is on his mind now. Instead, Herring is determined to channel his frustrations into what he hopes will be a barn-storming appearance for Ulster in an inter-pro clash with a Munster side coming off the back of their European hammering of Glasgow on a hugely emotional occasion in Limerick the day after Anthony Foley's funeral.

"I'm raring to go," insisted the 26-year-old, who made his 100th Ulster appearance against the Scarlets in September. "It's been a little frustrating over the last few weeks with the limited game-time, but I'm hungry for this weekend and ready to step up again."

Of course, both sides are sure to be diluted when it comes to their frontline Ireland stars but, even so, Herring knows that table-topping Ulster will be facing a Munster side determined to continue channelling their sense of deep loss into huge performances on the pitch.

Herring explained: "We've been there before with Nevin (Spence) and we know how they're feeling and it's a tough time for them. But I think the best thing we can do to pay respect to Axel (Foley) is to go out there and make it as tough an inter-pro as it can get.

"So we're going to go out and put it all on the line. I looked at that game last week (Munster v Glasgow) and thought there was no way they (Munster) were going to lose.

"But we can't worry about outside factors (for this one), we just have to go and give it our best shot. Hopefully at the end we'll be the ones on top."

The Ulster hooker also wants to mark his return to frontline action by getting the injury-wrecked squad back on the winning trail in the league after their last PRO12 outing ended in the season's first defeat at reigning champions Connacht.

And, of course, the record against Munster isn't good with four games having passed without a victory, while the hurt of last January's narrow 9-7 defeat in Belfast is still a live issue.

"We were bitterly disappointed," he recalled. "We'll be doing our best this weekend to make sure it doesn't happen again."

With only three points separating leaders Ulster - who are top on a superior points differential from Leinster - from fifth-placed Munster, there really is no wriggle room to falter again.

Herring said: "We've looked at these next two games prior to our break and we're going to give our all and hopefully still be at the top of the table."

The captaincy may also be falling his way for the Munster game and Herring is, quite clearly, up for that too.

"I want to go out and lead by example and play the best game I can," he added. "This is as big as its come."

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