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Court vows to prove Ireland worth against Leinster duo

Ulster's Tom Court has individual and collective incentives when he packs down against Leinster in their Magners League semi-final at the RDS tomorrow and goes into the clash with the belief that the favourites are "definitely beatable".

The collective challenge is more clearcut given that this is an 'all or nothing' assignment for the Ulstermen, while Leinster could have the weighty matter of a Heineken Cup clash with Northampton the following weekend playing on their minds.

The individual aspect sees Court measure up against Ireland's starting props Mike Ross (likely to be his direct opponent) and Cian Healy, and with the 30-year-old's capacity to play on both sides of the scrum, he could be facing both at different stages of proceedings.

Given that 14 of Court's international appearances have been off the bench, there is considerable incentive to make a powerful statement.

"They are definitely beatable, we saw that last month against Munster," said Court. "There's always going to be a battle on two fronts from a team perspective and a personal perspective.


"I think the personal battle is a good thing as it brings more out of you, so that you can put a face to a jersey and have a direct opponent.

"It's a one-off game and, on the day, I think if Ulster get in the right place, and get the physicality up, then we're definitely in with a chance. To have any sort of chance against Leinster you need to combat them physically for those first 20-30 minutes," added Court.

"You need to be starting well with huge physicality, match them up front and make them realise you're here for a game and that it's not just going to be a sevens match."

Meanwhile, Connacht will be hoping for a Leinster Heineken Cup victory to ensure their own partic-ipation in Europe's premier compe-tition for the first time and aid their recruitment drive for next season. Eric Elwood's men have already confirmed a dozen new signings to off-set their end-of-season departures, but are still in the market for an inside centre and tight-head prop respectively, following the exits of Niva Ta'auso and Jamie Hagan.

They were understood to be close to landing All Blacks centre Benson Stanley only for the 26-year-old to do an about-turn and re-sign with the Auckland Blues.

Second-row Bernie Upton is one of their players believed to be on his way, possibly to Edinburgh, who will be coached by former Connacht supremo Michael Bradley next season.


OUT -- Ian Keatley (Munster), Sean Cronin (Leinster), Jamie Hagan (Leinster), Fionn Carr (Leinster), Mike McComish (Ulster), Troy Nathan (Glasgow), Conor O'Loughlin, Cillian Willis, Bernie Upton, Liam Bibo, Niva Ta'auso, Aidan Wynne, Rob Sweeney, Shane Monahan and Darragh Fanning.

IN -- Stewart Maguire (Leinster), Ethienne Reynecke (Saracens), George Naoupu (Kobe Steelers), TJ Anderson (Ulster), Eoghan Grace (Exeter Chiefs), Paul O'Donoghue (Leinster), Dave Moore (Harlequins), Niall O'Connor (Ulster), Matthew Jarvis (Ospreys), Mark McCrea (Ulster), Fetu'u Vainikolo (Highlanders), James Loxton (Cardiff Blues).

Irish Independent