Ulster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors


Kingspan Stadium’s turnstiles have swung open this lunchtime, an early September outing for players, coaches and fans alike in this fascinating rugby autumn. ULSTERPREPARED TO IMPRESS

Both have sought to strengthen their playing resources in all positions and at all levels, with special emphasis on recruitment to the respective Academies and development of the key ‘A’ teams. Some of those with whom fans will perhaps be less familiar will certainly get the opportunity over the next week, and in the early weeks of PRO14 competition, to test themselves further up the professional ladder. Warriors’ Head Coach, Kiwi Dave Rennie, embarks on his third full season in charge, while his counterpart, McFarland, is at the helm for a second campaign, and - perhaps significantly – following a first complete pre- season with a playing and coaching group he can truly call his own. Both men know each other and the Warriors well, as before his stint with Scotland as Assistant Coach, McFarland was considered a hugely influential part of Gregor Townsend’s successful coaching set- up at Glasgow. Ulster’s management is now settled and impressive, and the addition of Roddy Grant as Forwards Coach will bring long-term benefits and, this afternoon, many in the Warriors colours will know his calibre at first hand from his distinguished career in Scotland. Over the next week, in the games with Glasgow here and at Scotstoun, and very certainly on the training ground each day, the preparation for the start of competitive

Later this afternoon in Dublin against Wales a few – perhaps too few - of Ulster’s finest will hope to demonstrate why Joe Schmidt has decided they should spend the next seven weeks furthering Ireland’s World Cup challenge in Japan. Captain Rory Best, Ulster’s new skipper Iain Henderson and the prolific Jacob Stockdale have secured their places on the ‘plane to the Far East. That Rob Herring, John Cooney, Jordi Murphy, Jack McGrath and Will Addison did not join them has provoked some understandable debate. The national side’s progress will focus minds intensely, but there is serious business to be addressed domestically, and if there is a ‘plus’ from that quintet’s exclusion, it is most definitely that they can give Ulster immense heft in the important early months of the PRO14. On the last weekend of this month the Guinness PRO14 will kick o‰ and Ulster will host the Ospreys aiming to set down a ‘marker’ for what Head Coach Dan McFarland will keenly hope will be a season where league and European Champions Cup ambitions will be pursued with a real conviction and with the best prepared and most talented squad in years. Today, Ulster host Glasgow Warriors, a side who harbour no less vigorous hopes.



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