Pienaar ready for No 10 shirt as Humphreys nurses injury
Springbok scrum-half Ruan Pienaar will almost certainly step in to wear the No 10 jersey when Ulster tackle two-time winners Leicester Tigers in their sell-out Heineken Cup clash at Ravenhill on Friday night.
With regular out-half Ian Humphreys nursing a hamstring injury sustained in the bonus-point victory over Edinburgh last week, the elegant Pienaar moves to No 10 with the energetic Paul Marshall as his half-back partner.
Although a scan showed no serious damage to the hamstring, Humphreys is unlikely to feature in the starting line-up for Ulster's biggest game this season.
With Paddy Wallace proving his fitness last week and coming into the midfield for Ian Whitten, coach Brian McLaughlin will make no other adjustments to a side that has recorded four bonus-point wins from their last five outings.
"Ian didn't train yesterday as he was rehabbing, but we are hoping that he might be able to train today. He had a scan earlier in the week and it showed no damage, so we are hopeful," said McLaughlin, who confirmed that flanker Pedrie Wannenburg, who also departed early from Murrayfield last week with a foot injury, came through training and should be fine.
McLaughlin knows what lies ahead of him and realises the Tigers are in fine form themselves.
"They had a good win over Wasps last week and have been on a good run of late, so they will come to Ravenhill very confident," he said.
"We are under no illusions, we know exactly what to expect from them. They are a tough physical unit who base their game around the set-pieces.
"But I believe that we can match them in the tight and at line-out time.
"We can also take a lot of confidence from our last two league outings. In the past, Ravenhill has been good to us and with the crowd as an extra man, hopefully it can be a lucky charm again.
"But no matter whether you play Leicester home or away, you get the same package -- a very hard team to break down and beat.
"Some say that we are favourites and it is nice to be talked up in that way when playing the likes of Leicester. That's what we want, that's what we have strived for.
"But at present, we are keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground.
"We just have to make sure we have everything in place, be accurate in everything we do, be 100pc ready for what is a massive task, and fired up for the job ahead. It's going to take that if you are to succeed."
Ulster top Pool 4 on 14 points with the Tigers on 12; Clermont Auvergne are a further point behind.
SQUAD IN FACTFILE