ULSTER’S REWARD FOR winning their pool and reaching the Heineken Cup quarter finals is to have eight players named in the Ireland Wolfhounds squad.
Darren Cave and Paul Marshall find themselves in familiar territory but Andrew Trimble and Tom Court will have to shelve all ideas of demotion and do some damage against the England Saxons on Friday night.
Ulster rugby supporters will be frustrated that some of their star names are being asked to prove themselves again after winning 16 or 18 matches this season.
From a national perspective, however, Trimble and Court did not cover themselves in glory when they last wore green.
The winger was a liability against South Africa in November and Court got pummelled in the scrum as an early replacement for the injured Mike Ross against England eight months earlier.
Door remains open
Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss, flanked by Cave and Dave Kilcoyne of Munster, fielded questions at today’s squad announcement and declared that squad places for the Wales opener in the Six Nations are still up for grabs.
He said, “Having the group together, and the strength of the group together, to prepare for Wales is good. With the Wolfhounds game on Friday comes a similar opportunity to that of [the] Fiji game.
It’s an opportunity for guys to put their hand up. Anyone who is in that squad is going to be considered for the full squad for the Welsh match next week.
“We may have [a squad] of 30 to 32 so anyone can force themselves into the squad and, saying that, force themselves into the team.”
Kiss added that it was ‘never in the forefront’ of management’s thinking to include Rob Kearney or Brian O’Driscoll in the 23-man squad.
He commented, “We saw it as an opportunity if game time didn’t come to them and they needed a bit more but they are both seasoned and felt comfortable where they were.
“We didn’t even broach the question with them really.”
No questions for O’Driscoll or Kearney but some answers required from the successful Ulster contingent in Galway.