Ulster skipper, Johann Muller, looked as fit as ever at Ulster training on Monday and is almost certain to lead the side against The Ospreys as the RaboDirect PRO12 action returns after a two week break.
Boosted by the confirmation, revealed in the News Letter on Monday and also on November 20, that he was staying for a further season - until the end of 2014 - by signing an extension to his contract the major news will be that the South African lock is back to full training and set to lead Ulster into a crucial period of the season in the build-up to the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Saracens in London on April 6.
Muller said: “The contract extension has been in the pipeline for a while now and I’m delighted to get it signed. I’ve had a great time at Ulster so far, three years have flown by and I’m really looking forward to a fourth year.
“Ulster Rugby has gone through some wonderful times over the past couple of years and it’s brilliant to be part of that. The players and back room staff have done an amazing job over the past three years and it’s an exciting place to be. Everybody is really happy being part of this squad and this environment and I’m no different. We’re on the right track and hopefully we can keep on going and win some silverware.
“We’ve done brilliantly so far this season but the next 8 to 12 weeks is obviously going to define the season. The important stuff is coming up now.”
The locking situation at Ulster had looked slightly grim recently with both Muller and Dan Tuohy on the sidelines.
However both are likely to be involved - indeed start - against the Welsh side at Ravenhill on Friday night.
It is the first of two home games for the current PRO12 leaders, Ulster holding an 11-point advantage at the top of the table from Glasgow Warriors.
Defending champions Ospreys hold fourth place - 13 points behind the Irish Province - and they will be keen to reduce that deficit and keep their play-off hopes on track.
Ulster head coach, Mark Anscombe will announce his provisional squad at lunch time on Tuesday.