Roddy Grant putting his faith in Ulster strength-in-depth
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On the tight head side of the scrum Marty Moore hasn’t played since the Munster game on New Year’s Day after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee which will rule him out for the rest of the season.
Grand Slam-winning prop Tom O’Toole lasted only five minutes in Friday night’s bonus point win over the Dragons after suffering a calf injury and could be sidelined for between four to six weeks.
At loose head, Eric O’Sullivan had to leave the pitch against the Welsh region after 23 minutes for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) and didn’t return.
He will now follow the World Rugby Return to Play protocols while British and Irish Lions’ Rory Sutherland and Callum Reid also missed the Dragons game due to injury.
“It is important to have competition, rugby is rugby and nowadays you are going to get injuries and that is where you need competition deep into your playing pool, which we have got,” said Grant. “Jeff (Toomaga-Allen) has been doing a great job, he has been playing really and has improved as well, Gareth Milasinovich is there as well.
“It’s like anything, it is an opportunity for other guys to come in and play and that’s what you want in a competitive squad...everyone to get better and pushing hard for places.”
Grant had no update on whether skipper Iain Henderson, who appeared on the Kingspan pitch on Friday night with Ireland’s Six Nations Championship trophy without a cast on his arm, will play again this season.
“I have not had those conversations (with Iain) I’m worrying about week to week, when I am told he can start training again and getting involved in training that’s when I’ll get excited,” he said. “Iain has been great, he is still obviously in meetings contributing.
"Leadership...he is still involved.”
Edinburgh arrive in Belfast sitting 13th in the United Rugby Championship table and nothing to play for in terms of play-offs or Heineken Cup qualification.
But Grant is weary of his old club where he spent six years as a player and two as forwards coach.
“Edinburgh have struggled this season, but they have an unbelievable squad of players, they have two or three (British and Irish) Lions the rest are pretty much internationals,” he said. “You saw what they did at the weekend against the Ospreys and it was a good Ospreys side out.
“It was their last home game and they wanted to ride that emotion, this week is their last game so I expect a tough game here...but we are looking forward to it.
“Them coming here should be tough for them, we are going relatively well, we are a powerful and physical side at home.
"We are expecting a tough match and I’d like to think they are expecting a tough match...Edinburgh is the last league game and there is a lot to play for.
“And beyond that we have a home quarter- final.”