JARED PAYNE: Players must earn right to be selected for Ulster

Ulster try scorer against Southern Kings, Angus Kernoham in the gym at the training base in Blomfiontein
Ulster try scorer against Southern Kings, Angus Kernoham in the gym at the training base in Blomfiontein

In spite of the short turnaround for this Friday’s game against Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, Ulster will only consider squad rotation it is it merited by the players.

Defence coach Jared Payne insisted that Ulster would not just change for the sake of it - the criteria for selection would be based on players earning the right to play.

Ulster defeated Southern Kings 28-7 on Sunday and have a short turnaround for Friday’s game.

They had taken a squad of 30 on the mini tour and it was widely expected there would be a few changes for the second game.

Influential scrumhalf John Cooney is the only player who has an injury questionmark over him after he received nine stitches to a head wound, but he has not yet been ruled out of this week’s game.

Dave Shanahan was his replacement last week and given back-to-back Irish derby games are to follow the Cheetahs, and then the opening two rounds of the European Champions Cup, it would be expected Cooney would not be risked this week.

Johnny Stewart is champing at the bit to be involved after some decent performances last week and fellow halfback Johnny McPhillips has had to yield to both Billy Burns and Angus Curtis this season. Both could do with being given an opportunity.

Peter Nelson stepped in to cover for Will Addison at fullback last week after the latter took sick. A fit again Addison would be expected to start this week.

Asked about potential rotation this week Payne said: “I do not think so. You have got to earn the right to play in the team.

“If there are guys who are pushing pretty hard in training they might have earned their chance.

“But if not, we will pick the guys who have been doing the job.

“We want very much to be a team where you earn your place so we will be selecting it based on that criteria.”

Ulster did not add bring anybody else across to join the squad this week.

Both Ulster and Cheetahs are due to name their sides for Friday night’s game tomorrow.