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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 31 March, 2020
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Heineken Cup: Marshall and Afoa ready to face Saracens at Twickenham

Ulster have been buoyed by a win in Dublin, positive fitness updates and reports of a large contingent of travelling fans.

Craig Gilroy and Luke Marshall should feature in the Ulster backline.
Craig Gilroy and Luke Marshall should feature in the Ulster backline.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

THE LOUGH ERNE RESORT on the outskirts of Enniskillen is preparing for the G8 Summit and bulking up security in and around its lush grounds.

Ulster coach Mark Anscombe is delighted to see his squad – rendered threadbare in January and February – bulked up just as the season reaches the do-or-die period.

The Kiwi is expected to have John Afoa, who became a father again at the weekend, and Luke Marshall in the selection mix for this Saturday’s Heineken Cup quarter-final against Saracens.

Marshall sustained concussive blows in successive Six Nations outings for Ireland but is expected to feature in the Ulster backline in Twickenham.

Lock Iain Henderson told TheScore.ie, “Luke looks to be training well. I heard he passed his concussion test as well so he should be fit and raring to go.

“I’m not sure when John starts travelling back [from Auckland, New Zealand] but he should be here in plenty of time.”

Johann Muller is two games into his comeback and Chris Henry looked immense in the breakdown against Leinster. Jared Payne came through that league win unscathed, yellow card aside, while Ruan Pienaar played his first game in a month for the province.

The Irish contingent, including Henderson, Paddy Jackson and Craig Gilroy, will be happy to be back on a winning team.

Saracens, led by former Ulster coach Mark McCall, beat Wasps at the weekend to confirm top-spot in the Aviva Premiership but Henderson is not daunted by the prospect of an away day in London. He said:

I haven’t watched the whole of their match in full but we have reviewed bits of it. They’re looking pretty sharp but we look sharp at the minute too.”

“It will be a good clash,” added Henderson, “but it was interesting to hear that there would be 43,000 and it will be the highest ever attendance for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

“Hopefully a few more fans will make the trip over and make themselves heard.”

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Patrick McCarry

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