Ulster fret as Herring prepares for 'stamp' hearing
For the second time in as many weeks, Ulster face an anxious wait ahead of a Pro12 disciplinary committee meeting.
After Iain Henderson was spared a suspension last Wednesday for his red card against Munster the previous weekend, hooker Rob Herring will today appear in Cardiff following his citing for allegedly stamping on an opponent.
Any ban leading from the incident, which occurred in the 54th minute of last Saturday's defeat to Glasgow, would see the South African-born Irish international miss Friday night's Pro12 semi-final against the same opponents.
Herring, who yesterday was included alongside Ulster team-mates Stuart McCloskey, Peter Nelson, Lewis Stevenson, Frank Taggart and Andy Warwick in the Emerging Ireland squad for June's Tbilisi Cup, was not carded during the game but was subsequently cited by the independent citing commissioner.
Head coach Neil Doak said: "We had a look at the footage and we'll just have to wait and see what the citing commissioner and the citing committee make judgment on.
"If anything comes of it we'll have to bring another player in and adapt to that.
"We're unfortunately well versed in these things happening.
"But hopefully they'll see sense and nothing comes of it."
The low entry point for a suspension under Law 10.4(b) is two weeks, which would effectively end the 25-year-old's season.
While sounding sceptical that the alleged incident warranted such scrutiny, Doak stressed his side's discipline would need to improve if they are to become the first away side to win a Pro12 semi-final.
"We know that we have to be better disciplined," he lamented.
"Not just giving away penalties but also what we do with the ball, how we work for each other and making sure we play smart rugby."
In last weekend's loss, Ulster's understrength unit conceded 14 of the 32 points they eventually shipped with prop Andrew Warwick in the sin bin.
"Glasgow are a tough enough side with 15 guys, with 14 it was always going to be difficult," said Doak.
With Herring's availability pending, Wiehahn Herbst joining Stuart Olding, Andrew Trimble and Nick Williams on the sidelines for the rest of the season, and Franco van der Merwe seeming sure to miss out, Doak can at least count on the return of a number of frontline players for a second trip to Scotstoun in six days.
Ireland stars Jared Payne, Dan Tuohy, Darren Cave and Craig Gilroy are all expected to overcome minor knocks while Ruan Pienaar, Rory Best, Paddy Jackson and Roger Wilson should all be restored to the starting line-up.
"We made a few changes (last week), some forced and others we had to take more of a practical decision on, but we'll be as close to a full deck as we can be at this stage of the season," said Doak.