Ferris and Best return as Ulster prepare to turn up heat for Scarlets
Stephen Ferris and Rory Best and New Zealander John Afoa return to the Ulster starting line-up for Friday night's Pro12 League clash with the high-flying Scarlets at Ravenhill.
The Ireland duo were rested last week as an error-strewn Ulster crashed to Glasgow at Firhill leaving them sitting in a lowly eighth place. Afoa has returned to Ulster after a trip back to New Zealand to attend the wedding of fellow All Black Jerome Kaino.
Chris Henry and Craig Gilroy will also be on the starting line-up, while although not named in the 33-man squad, there is still a possibility that Springbok Ruan Pienaar may be given the all-clear to play.
Pienaar has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since he returned from the World Cup with South Africa and the medical staff will give him a thorough test today before deciding whether he will be involved in the match-day 23.
Ferris, meanwhile, will come in for Robbie Diack with the in-form Chris Henry taking over from Willie Faloon. Best will replace Andi Kyriacou at hooker while Afoa comes straight in for the unfortunate Declan Fitzpatrick, who has exacerbated a neck injury.
Apart from Gilroy replacing Simon Danielli on the wing and the possible availability of Pienaar, the back-line will be the same that failed to ignite against the Warriors.
Skipper Johann Muller says that it could be that the team is trying a bit too hard to break the present poor form.
"Sometimes the harder you try, the worse it gets," said the big Springbok lock.
"We are at a stage were we are so scared of making mistakes that that is exactly what is happening.
"It's all about confidence. I said to the guys that we have to get that balance right between trying too hard and not trying at all. That is the problem at this stage.
"We have been working at it very hard. We are more disappointed that anyone else.
"We have set very high standards for ourselves and we are not even coming close to them. It's been a tough week as we want to be at a certain level and we know we are better that where we are at present.
"It all boils down to those small things, and confidence does make a difference. We have been training superbly and if we can only take that type of preparation into the game on Friday we can beat any side."
The Scarlets have already defeated Ulster this season, but have not won on Irish soil for nearly two years.