Ulster Rugby v Dragons

He’s built on the inbuilt resolve at Newport, brought a unique passion to his role and to his team, and the has recruited well on and off the pitch. Lions hooker Richard Hibbard was lured from Gloucester, serial winner Zane Kirchner from Leinster, while Ceri Jones has coaching responsibility for the forwards, Hendre Marnitz for defence. The Dragons breathe passion, and now there is a depth to their staff which genuinely augurs well for the future, for it is the future which Jackman is building. Nic Cudd still shows his class in the back row, Hallam Amos – probably ruled out this week as he gets fit for international duty next month – is a full-back of imagination and solidity, while Jacob Botica, scrum- halves Rhodri Davies and Rhodri Williams are proven pivots. And, but for a knee injury, the enigma that is Gavin Henson might have given the Kingspan Stadium crowd an opportunity to show its feelings for an extraordinary, under-achieving talent. Ross Moriarty is a No.8 seduced from Kingsholm too, and Cory Hill, who made his 100th appearance in the pack last week, are just samples of the rugged but skilful forwards who might enjoy an arm-wrestle this evening. So there is depth now in the squad, just as there is in Ulster’s roster, and now is the time McFarland will hope that strength proves itself. The imminent international break will give protracted playing time to a clutch of youngsters the Head Coach has already shown he trusts and will not shy away from including in his matchday plans. Michael Lowry was a schoolboy star who is quickly coming to terms with a different level of physical pressure, and while Best, Henderson, Stockdale and others will wear green in November he will have the opportunity to show why he, one day, will most certainly, and Will Addison will feel he’s close to a call to international arms.

He, like the experienced warriors and the youngsters, will respect the challenge of Dragons, and of Benetton in Italy next weekend. No longer are there ‘easy’ games, the game is too professional and demanding, so respecting each opponent – individually and collectively – is an important element in the personality of any team.



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