The Ulster players who are not involved in the World Cup warm-up preparations jet off on Monday for a training camp in southern France.
For five days they will be based at Capbreton where the aim will be to continue preparations for the start of the season on September 2 when Ulster host Glasgow Warriors in their RaboDirect Pro12 series curtain-raiser.
Training on Monday and Tuesday will be followed by a match on Wednesday night against Bayonne who finished seventh in last season’s Top 14.
But Ulster’s Director of Rugby David Humphreys stressed that the result of the midweek clash at Stade Jean Dauger is of secondary importance — his eye is on the bigger picture.
Outlining the purpose of the trip, he said: “We’re nearing the end of what has been a very long, tough period for the players and camp is a chance to get away for a few days and come back refreshed for the start of the season.
“To be honest the game, in terms of a result, is not hugely significant for us — the purpose of the match was to get a camp and to give some players game time who wouldn’t ordinarily get it.”
With Bayonne’s league season starting the following week, at this stage they are expected to be ahead of Ulster in their preparations.
Humphreys said: “This match is the first of three friendlies and every one is a step towards competitive rugby.
“We’ll do things a little differently in each game so that by the time we come to play Glasgow in the first round of the Pro12 everybody has clicked back into what is a match week and the season is off and running again.”
While Ulster’s big names have been preparing for the World Cup with their respective nations, the players not involved returned to pre-season as far back as June 20.
Phoenix Academy starlets have worked with the seniors.
“With a lot of our senior players away we’ve brought in our Phoenix Academy players who have worked very hard this summer,” he said.