ULSTER captain Johann Muller believes Rory Best's return to fitness is a huge boost to the province's Heineken Cup hopes.
Ulster face a Montpellier side already out of the competition on Friday at Ravenhill before their winner-takes-all meeting with Leicester at Welford Road on Saturday week.
After getting their Pro12 season back on track with last weekend's win over Munster, Mark Anscombe's men will be looking to build momentum and the return of the skipper and Best is a major lift.
The 31-year-old hooker broke his arm during Ireland's November defeat to New Zealand. He underwent surgery and only received the all-clear from an orthopaedic specialist yesterday.
Best (right) returned to training last week, and was involved in full contact work this week. A decision on whether he starts in the number two jersey or from the bench depends on any reaction to training.
The same applies to Ulster skipper Muller, who missed the Munster game with a calf injury. He is looking forward to Best's return.
"It's outstanding that Rory is back," the Springbok said. "Not only is he a quality player, but a quality leader who brings a huge amount to this Ulster side.
"In his absence Rob Herring has been absolutely outstanding, but Rory brings such experience and he will be delighted to pull the jersey back on over his head again."
Muller is keeping his fingers crossed that he will be available for the penultimate pool clash amid rumours he might retire from the game at the end of the season.
"I need a new body, never mind a new calf," laughed Muller, who will be returning home to Mossel Bay in two weeks' time for a short holiday to contemplate his future in the game.
"I took a full part in training yesterday morning regarding line-out and scrums, but the deciding issue will be whether or not there is any reaction to yesterday afternoon's full-bore session," he concluded.