IT may be a case of fortune shining on prop, Andrew Warwick, but the youngster could make his Ulster senior debut from the bench against The Ospreys on Friday night in the RaboDirect PRO12
The 21-year-old rookie Ballymena player was named for the first time in Tuesday’s Ulster provisional panel ahead of the visit of the defending league champions to Ravenhill.
The current league leaders have found themselves slightly short in the prop department with New Zealand World Cup winner John Afoa not due to return from an extended break home until next week ahead of the Zebre visit.
Adam Macklin and Paddy McAllister are both on the sidelines with injuries which keep them out for the remainder of the season and Declan Fitzpatrick is on the Irish squad.
Tom Court, who has been playing more on the loose side of the front row this season is set to start at tighthead against Ospreys, with Callum Black at loose.
Given that Ulster are only able to name two other props in their provisional line-up, Ricky Lutton and Warwick, if affords the Ulster Ravens player and former Ulster Schools and Under-20 prop an opportunity to line out for the senior side.
Ulster coach, Mark Anscombe, in respect of Afoa, said it had been agreed with him that he would get an extra week at this stage of the season.
“His wife and kids have gone back home because his wife is expecting their third child in April. We knew we would not have him, but then we did not expect Declan Fitzpatrick to be playing for Ireland given that he had played no rugby for us due to injury.
“So much for planning,” smiled Anscombe.
“But Andrew has worked hard and has done well with the Ravens and this presents an opportunity for him to be part of the squad. It also presents an opportunity for us to see him in the environment as well, so it is good for everyone.”
Anscombe added: “Allen Clarke has been highly impressed with him, his attitude and the way he has handled himself with the Ravens, he has done well at club level and he has only been training with us this week but he has fitted in really well and he just goes about his work and that’s all you want from your props.”
Ulster are able to welcome back locks Johann Muller and Dan Tuohy from injury along with centre, Luke Marshall while Stuart Olding was released by the Ireland Under-20s at the request of the Province and he could start at fullback against the Welsh side after a promising game there for the young greens against Wales last week.
However, with Paddy Jackson in the Irish camp and an uncertainty if he was to be released, Olding can also provide cover at outhalf - and indeed centre.
Andrew Trimble and Darren Cave were named on the provisional panel in spite of being called in the Ireland camp. With injury doubts surrounding Gordon D’Arcy and Keith Earls, one or both could be retained in Dublin for the visit of England on Sunday.
ULSTER PROVISIONAL SQUAD: Nigel Brady, Rob Herring, Niall Annett, Callum Black, Ricky Lutton, Andrew Warwick, Tom Court, Lewis Stevenson, Dan Tuohy, Neil McComb, Johann Muller, Mike McComish Robbie Diack, Ali Birch.
Ruan Pienaar, Paul Marshall, Niall O’Connor, Stuart Olding, Paddy Wallace, Luke Marshall, Darren Cave, Michael Allen, Andrew Trimble, Chris Cochrane, Ricky Andrew.