Ulster coach reveals Irish wingers wanted to play

Tommy Bowe in action for Ireland against Argentina
Tommy Bowe in action for Ireland against Argentina

The Irish Rugby player welfare management programme was expected to kick in for Ulster this weekend when the players returned from their duties over the Guinness Autumn Test series.

However, while some will be rested, Ulster head coach, Mark Anscombe, said some wanted to be involved in this weekend’s PRO12 away fixture at Scarlets when the provisional squad was announced on Wednesday.

Irish coach, Declan Kidney revealed on Saturday evening after the 46-24 victory over Argentina that all the players would be released to their Provinces, but no restrictions were being forced.

Irish try scorers, Tommy Bowe, who crossed twice against Argentina, and Craig Gilroy, who followed up his hat-trick in the non-cap Test against Fiji with a try on his ‘official’ debut in the green shirt against the Pumas, both told the Ulster boss they wanted to be involved in Llanelli.

It could of course be the case, that having missed out in recent weeks, the flying wingers want to state their cases to be included in the team the following week against Northampton Saints.

Anscombe said: “They both wanted to come back and were keen to be involved, so they are both included.

“We did want to rest some, though, the two main players coming back being Ruan Pienaar and Chris Henry.

“Chris has had a pretty important month, so we wanted him to get a chance to refocus and re-energise.

“I thought he showed he is if an international quality as an openside player. People have second guessed him and did not think he would get it, but I think he has proved he is an international quality player,”

In the case of Pienaar, who was involved in all the South African match in the past three weeks, Anscombe said he really needed a break.

“He has not stopped since he came back to us from the Rugby Championship and needs some time.”

Anscombe added: “We are going into a crucial month so we want to manage thinks carefully.

“This is a defining period in our season both in the Rabo PRO12, but also in Europe.

“It is going to be a pretty tough schedule especially with this week coming in where we have a short turnaround from Sunday to Friday.”

Anscombe will name his team to face the Scarlets on Friday.