Wednesday 18 July 2018

Ulster dealt a blow ahead of La Rochelle trip as Rory Best and Jared Payne set to miss out once again

Ireland captain Rory Best has been sidelined by a hamstring injury
Ireland captain Rory Best has been sidelined by a hamstring injury
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Rory Best’s involvement in Ulster’s Champions Cup tie in La Rochelle on Sunday is likely to extend no further than waterboy, according to head coach Jono Gibbes.

“He’s still week to week,” Gibbes said of his captain who tore a hamstring in training last month. “He’s has had some involvement in our sessions this week. He’s moved to the next stage for sure and he’s had a bit of involvement in the session I’ve just come from. It’s a players’ day off tomorrow so we’ll see how he goes.

“JP (Jared Payne) – it’s the normal response: still ongoing. John Cooney is pretty good – he’s all right, and Jean Deysel is pretty sore and he’s had a pretty light start to the week but he seems to be tracking ok. Nothing too major at the moment.”

Payne has not featutred for Ulster since migraine issues cut short his Lions tour of New Zealand in the summer. 

As for Best heading with the team to La Rochelle, who got their European debut off to a flyer with a bonus point win at the Stoop last weekend, Gibbes sees lots of value in having him on board.

“It’s a big match and to have him in and around in the environment would be good. I’m not sure how that’s going to pan out but I think if he was the water carrier it would be good to have him around the guys for sure.

“From my experience last season in France when we analysed them with Clermont individually they are probably one of the most skilful, sort of x factor, teams in France. La Rochelle seem to have 1-15 who can do all sorts of things. So the threat os pretty real.”

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