Thursday 17 August 2017

Fit-again Muller to pen new deal as Best boosts Ulster for key Saints clashes

David Kelly

David Kelly

Ulster captain Johann Muller is in line to return to action for the Pro12 top-of-the-table clash against Scarlets in Llanelli on Sunday, and coach Mark Anscombe is also confident the Springbok will extend his contract.

And his predecessor in the armband, Rory Best, has also given the unbeaten Heineken Cup finalists a boost as he has declared himself fit to return for the crucial back-to-back European clashes with Northampton next month.

Best sprained neck ligaments during Ulster's victory over the Dragons last month which saw him miss the autumn internationals.

It was feared that the injury was linked to the neck surgery Best had three seasons ago, but that has been dispelled by the hooker.

"The injury is coming on very well," said Best. "It needed a bit of rest and time, and it has got that.

"I've trained hard for the past two weeks, so hopefully within another fortnight I should be ready to start playing again.

"The bone graft that I required in 2009 looks perfect and the surgeon is very happy and that is very reassuring."

Best has been enthused by Ulster's recent double success on the road in Italy and the imminent reintroduction of the young stars who lit up Ireland's November series.

"While the last two performances have not been particularly good, we still collected eight points," he said. "Teams will go to Italy and not win.

"Watching Ireland play and the Ulster boys that were involved over the past two or three weeks has been brilliant."

Muller, meanwhile, has been training regularly with the Ulster squad since he returned from thumb surgery and will hopefully play some part in Sunday's game.

Ulster are also hoping that the big Springbok will remain with the province for another season at least.

His contract is up in June and while he had planned to return home to Mossel Bay in the Southern Cape to work on the family farm, a one-year extension is believed to be imminent, with the IRFU and their edict regarding foreign players unlikely to stand in the way.

Irish Independent

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