Thursday 22 February 2018

Ulster hoping to have Marshall available

Luke Marshall. Photo: Sportsfile
Luke Marshall. Photo: Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ulster are hopeful that Luke Marshall will be cleared to play against Connacht on Friday after he came through the return-to-play protocols this week.

However, due to the Ireland centre's history with head injuries, Les Kiss will not select him unless he is cleared to play by a specialist this week.

Kiss is expected to start another Marshall, scrum-half Paul, and allow Ruan Pienaar reprise his impact replacement role from last weekend's win over Ospreys as the league leaders look to consolidate their unbeaten run ahead of the focus switching to Europe next week.

Iain Henderson is hopeful of getting the all-clear after damaging his elbow before the clash with the Welsh region.

Although he has not yet started negotiations on a new deal himself, 32-year-old Paul Marshall is set to be No 1 scrum-half next season when Pienaar departs but he is relishing the last months working with the Springbok. "When I ask myself: 'I'm I better player playing and training with him?'

"Yes, of course I am. Obviously whatever happens next season, is next season, but he's playing very well so far," he said.

"As a player, you just keep your head down and keep playing to the best of your ability.

"I presume with different rulings, it will be interesting to see what happens in terms of other players or just what the lay-out will be next year."

Despite Connacht's indifferent form and harrowing injury list, the Ulster scrum-half is expecting a battle.

"They are obviously a quality side," the three-times-capped Ireland international said..

"They've still got the bulk of their squad from last season and same management set-up. They know what they are doing.

"We had a very narrow victory there last year, so they will be out to change that."

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