independent

Friday 25 April 2014

Anscombe plays down loss of captain Muller

ULSTER coach Mark Anscombe insists that the loss of inspirational captain Johann Muller – out for at least eight weeks with a broken arm – will not be allowed to disrupt his side's magnificent form.

The second-row forward suffered an undisplaced fracture of his radius 51 minutes into the destruction of Northampton Saints, who were outscored four tries to nil in the course of a 25-6 drubbing at Franklin's Gardens where Ulster chalked up their 13th straight win.

With fellow lock Lewis Stevenson also sidelined, the options in this position for Saturday night's return game against Northampton at Ravenhill (6.0) are limited. Dan Tuohy and Neil McComb are the only out-and-out second-rows.

"Lewis is not back yet from injury, so that's a bit of a concern. But we've got a couple boys," Anscombe said. "Iain Henderson's career has been mainly in that position.

"He's learning the six (blindside flanker) position and we've got some pretty good loose forwards, so that's an option for us.

"The fact is that with our development and growing this team, we can't rely on one person."

Underlining the fact that Ulster already have shown their ability to adapt to the loss of personnel, he said: "Stevie Ferris is another key player for us, but, with his injuries, he's been out and we've been able to move (players) and keep going on.

"It's the same with Johann," Anscombe insisted. "We've got to keep going, we can't rely on one or two people."

And expressing his optimism, despite the loss of his skipper, he added: "If we start being able to do that, then we're going to be there or thereabouts and a team that can challenge later on in the season."

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