Wednesday 17 January 2018

Pienaar ready to start for Ulster but Ferris likely to miss out again

Ruan Pienaar is set to start Ulster's Heineken Cup clash in Glasgow on Friday night, but Stephen Ferris, though in the squad, looks likely to miss out again as last season's finalists seek to maintain their unbeaten start to the season, WRITES DAVID KELLY.

Pienaar (above) clambered off the bench last Friday to claim the crucial bonus point for his side and will edge luckless Paul Marshall out of a stating berth against the team who lost their opening game at Northampton.

"It was great to see all the familiar faces again," said Pienaar, who arrived in Belfast last week straight from Rugby Championship duty with the Springboks.

"While I was away, I kept a close watch on things and the guys have done really well.

"I said to the guys before I left to link up with South Africa that I have to be realistic about getting back into the team when I returned.

"When I did arrive back, I was told not to put too much pressure on myself and that being put on the bench would be a good idea.

"I haven't really had a break since last season, but it was great just to slot right in again and get a bit of game time with the boys.

"While I'm still healthy, I just want to play. Ulster have a lot of talented scrum-halves and if something happens, there is plenty of back-up.

"I came back to a satisfied camp. It's only natural to keep working really hard for each other. That is one thing I noticed about the new coach, in that there is a harder work ethic both on and off the pitch.

"There is more emphasis put on the small details of our game. The coach is very hard on small things in both attack and defence."

No 8 Nick Williams is likely to return from injury. He and Ferris have been named in an extended squad, but the Ireland flanker is suffering from back spasms and is not expected to play.

Irish Independent

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