Ulster are expected to have some big names back for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup game against Harlequins as they look to make it three wins for three games in Europe.
Captain Iain Henderson and fellow Irish international Jacob Stockdale are set to return after sitting out last Friday night’s bonus point win over the Scarlets.
Out half Billy Burns missed that game due to a hamstring should return while prop Marty Moore has shaken off a bang he took against the Welsh region.
Ulster top their pool with two wins from two while Harlequins are third, four points behind the Kingspan Stadium club but skill coach Dan Soper is weary of the threat the Londoners pose and how the table can dramatically change during the back to back fixtures.
“It’s one game at a time, in some way Harlequins are in no different position than we were this time last year, round three for us last year, away to Scarlets, we started to take off so they’re still in the mix,” said Soper. “So we need to back it up with another really good performance at home to keep that momentum going but it’s one game at a time through the group so long way to go yet.
“It’s very important when you start getting on a bit of a roll like that, that word momentum is one you like to lean on and keep going, it’s one game at a time this is the unique period of the season when you play a team back-to-back, you don’t get that in any other competition in the world virtually so we know how important it is to get a good start this week.”
Soper is hoping for an 80-minute performance against Quins. Ulster played their best rugby of the season in the first half-hour against the Scarlets but only managed one score in the remaining 50 minutes.
“I guess the numbers on the scoreboard suggested it was as good as it’s been,” he said. “It was pretty pleasing to start that game the way we did, can be tricky enough between European rounds you’re never quite certain if you’re going to be on the money or not, so it was nice to get off to a good start.
“I don’t think it was an eye to Europe, there were a lot of players out there fighting for places and the likes but I think Scarlets are a very good team and you’ve got to give them a lot of credit as well.
“We probably shocked them a wee bit in the first 30 minutes and how we played as well as we did.
“They managed to get a bit of a foothold in the game, we were disappointed at the second half.
“We had a few errors, breakdown a couple of times, kick errors, the decision to kick was a good one - we didn’t quite nail the detail and execute the kicks.
“Every time we put ourselves in a position to go after them, we just let the foot off a bit with poor execution so it wasn’t where we rested and thought the game was over, we just didn’t nail the detail the way we did in the first half.”