Tuesday 24 April 2018

Humphreys and Muldoon eager for return to fray on Euro stage

John Muldoon: ready to return
John Muldoon: ready to return
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

BOTH Connacht and Ulster are set to hand seasonal reappearances to John Muldoon and Ian Humphreys as the provinces kick off their European campaigns this weekend.

Muldoon hasn't featured since breaking an arm against the All Blacks during the summer and could see action against the part-time Italian outfit Cavalieri Prato in the Challenge Cup on Saturday while an injury to Niall O'Connor should mean Humphreys will get the chance to line up alongside the exciting Ruan Pienaar at half-back in Ulster's clash at home to Aironi on Friday night.

"It's touch and go as to whether (Muldoon) will make it for this Saturday's game against Prato. He's nearly there and mad keen to come back but we will have to monitor him during the week," said Elwood.

Elwood has seen his back row options swell recently after Johnny O'Connor's return to action against Cardiff, while summer signing and No 8 Ezra Taylor is also expected to be available shortly.

Connacht reached the semi-finals of this tournament last year after winning all six pool games -- the only team to do so in either of the European competitions -- and Elwood is confident they will get off to a winning start.

"We have had a look at them and know what to expect but we will head there knowing we have a job to do and take nothing for granted," he said.

Ulster are the only unbeaten side competing in this season's Heineken Cup and are expected to dismiss the Italian challenge despite the absence of Stephen Ferris and the wrist injury carried by BJ Botha, who is named in the squad.

"We do not want to get ahead of ourselves. A lot of people are expecting us to win with a bonus point, but to have that mindset is foolish. We have to go out with a set plan in place and beat them in the first 20-25 minutes and then see what happens."

Irish Independent

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