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Ulster will have everything geared towards Connacht crunch

Luke Marshall
Luke Marshall
Chris Henry

By Chris Henry

When I was in the middle of what I'd say were the peak years of my career, probably ages 28 through 31, I would have felt like I could go a month without a game and not really miss a beat.

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In those seasons, rust wouldn't have been a concern at all, even if there were times earlier and later in my playing days when I liked to have a game or two under my belt in order to feel confident about really hitting my straps in time for a big day like Ulster will have next weekend.

But everybody is different and that will be the challenge for the Ulster coaches this week. Obviously, while any time you play Leinster at home is important, there's nothing more than pride riding on this Saturday's game and the side will be doing whatever it takes to maximise their chances of success against Connacht in the Guinness PRO14 quarter-finals just seven days later.

As such, if anyone is carrying a knock then they'll obviously sit this one out in the hope of being right a week later. That's a no-brainer even if you're talking about players not as central to Ulster's silverware hopes as Rory Best and Jacob Stockdale.

Then there's players like Iain Henderson, Luke Marshall and Jordi Murphy. At different times this year, they're all guys who at points have shown they can be plugged straight back in without any fears of their performances dipping. It would be no surprise to see them on the sidelines for this one, knowing that they'll be ready to go for Connacht.

Ultimately at this stage of the season, Dan McFarland and his team will know the players so well that I'd imagine they'll have a good sense of who could do with an extra bit of time on the pitch to hit their peak in time for the big games to come.

Given their European adventures last weekend, Leinster will rotate heavily regardless of what the hosts put out, but for all the good work Ulster have done this season, they'll know it's next week's inter-pro that really counts.

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