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Anscombe hails return of 'leaders' for Ulster's shot at glory

Fermanagh's Lough Erne resort will host the world's most important political leaders later this year, but this week it's the home of Ulster Rugby.

After a spectacular spring wobble that saw their seemingly impregnable Pro12 leadership fritter away amidst the absence of some 23 players through injury or unavailability, Ulster may have timed their emergence from the slump with precision timing.

Key figures such as club captain Johann Muller, his predecessor Rory Best and occasional skipper Chris Henry have all returned to backbone Ulster's attempt to upset Saracens in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

"We haven't had our leaders for a while and that hasn't helped our cause," said coach Mark Anscombe, whose side reversed a recent dip by storming the RDS citadel with victory over Leinster last Saturday.

"There were a couple of young guys coming in, one for his first cap, and another for his first start against Leinster, but we had that experience and quality around them, and that was the difference over the past two months.

Battle

"It is all about attitude. If you have got that right you will battle through and that's what happened on Saturday.

"We are now facing the best team in England in Saracens – they have quality players across the park and they are comfortable in their own game. What's more they are confident in their ability to win games."

Anscombe may still be fretting about the potential departure of Stephen Ferris to Japan but he is enthused that only Ferris and Tommy Bowe remain absent for the enormous challenge against the English Premiership pacesetters.

"This is our Test match on Saturday. By Monday there will be only four teams left in the competition," he said.

"This is a one-off, there is no second chances. Hence our week here in Fermanagh rather than Newforge in Belfast.

"This is our first one-off game this season. We knew we were going to play our best team against Leinster and we needed to get away and focus on what we need to do in London against the best team in England."

Irish Independent