Dan McFarland wary of threat posed by the Scarlets
Dan McFarland has warned Ulster they are in for a tough night as the Scarlet’s visit the Kingspan Stadium in the Pro14 on Friday.
Ulster are second in Conference A nine points behind Leinster, while the Llanelli-based side are second in Conference B three points behind Munster, but have 12 players in the Welsh squad to face the Barbarians on Saturday.
“We have no idea who’s going to be there and who’s not beyond what’s named in the squad,” said McFarland.
“Scarlets are five and one, having had a lot of players at the World Cup so it’s not going to make that much difference to what they’ve been putting out this season.
“There might be the odd player here or there, the odd player back they didn’t expect to have, we don’t know, we prepare for a strong team.
“They certainly haven’t changed their desire to want to play so they’re very threatening.
“They have an excellent variety of kicks, attacking kicks in their game, double sided attack, there are things that are different this year but in terms of their attacking play, the threat is still there.
“We understand that the Scarlets will come here full of vigour, playing a nice brand of rugby, new coach, very excited about being five and one, having played Challenge Cup rugby for the last two weeks, which is not as much in the spotlight as the Champions Cup.
“So for them it’s a mental freshen up and they’ll target this as a huge game.”
The Scarlets game is sandwiched between the opening four rounds of the Champions Cup but McFarland may resist making wholesale changes to the team.
“We don’t have to rotate,” he said. “We might change a few players around but this is a really important game for us, you can see the way the table sits at the moment, there is no room for manoeuvre.
“This is not a game where, or an opposition where, you would feel safe changing everybody out, that’s not going to be happening.”
Louis Ludik is set to win his 100th cap on Friday night and the coach had special praise for the South African.
“I think Louis has been absolutely excellent over the last few weeks,” said McFarland.
“Given the weather we’ve had and the importance of the opposition we’ve been playing, in the aerial game he has been the stand-out performer there.
“It was a real dogfight at the weekend in the aerial battle and they have an excellent pair of scrum-halves and we obviously have an excellent one in the kicking game.
“Being able to win those aerial battles and pick up the ball as it bounces around or put pressure on the opposition as they were catching it was critical and Louis is top notch at that.”
McFarland and Ulster have been dealt a potential blow after full back Will Addison was cited for an incident in last Friday’s win over Clermont.
Addison is alleged to have committed an act of foul play in that he tackled the Clermont second row, Paul Jedrasiak in a dangerous manner in the 31st minute of the match in contravention of Law 9.13.
The complaint was made by the match Citing Commissioner, John Byett (England).
Under World Rugby’s Sanctions for Foul Play, Law 9.13 relating to dangerous tackling carries the following sanction entry points Low End: two weeks; Mid-range: six weeks; Top end: 10 to 52 weeks.