Spence on a mission to halt Henson

Ulster’s Nevin Spence hopes to avoid the blues when he runs-up against Gavin Henson in Cardiff’s traditional Arms Park home tonight.

Spence is back in the mix alongside international Paddy Wallace as Ulster hope to continue their hot streak and move up the RaboDirect Pro 12 League.

Coach Brian McLaughlin re-jigs his backline further with Stefan Terblanche moving to full-back and Ian Whitten pushed out to the wing. He can also call upon prop Tom Court and back-row forward Chris Henry as well as recalling hooker Nigel Brady up front to boost a side that has secured six bonus-point wins from their last eight outings.

Spence, meanwhile, wants to put one over on Henson after having a tough time against former All Black Casey Laulala, who is currently injured, the last time Ulster faced the Blues.

“Yes Laulala, he’s a very good player and I had a bit of a nightmare against him the last time we played the Blues. I haven’t faced Henson before, but I’ll just do what I have been doing lately,” said Spence who returns after a spell on the treatment bench with an ankle injury.

“We’ve been scoring bonus points for a while now even when I was out injured and I don’t know if that was a coincidence that it happened when I was out,” laughed Spence.

“It’s good, we’re trying to play decent rugby so we’re happy and hopefully it will continue. We’re all used to each other and most of us can play either 12 or 13.”

Cardiff are a point and a place behind Ulster in the table as they look to push for the play-offs. For a second consecutive week they have decided to stage the game at the Arms Park in the hope of getting a capacity crowd.

“It’s important to get that win and leapfrog over Cardiff. They have again switched the game to the Arms Park and it will be a big hostile crowd.

“After being disappointed with our form around Halloween we’re now back on track and hopefully we’ll continue that. We can use the home crowd to fuel ourselves — you know an ‘us against them’ mentality, so it works both ways for the teams with a big crowd.

“I’ve not played at the Arms Park before, I think that both times I’ve played at the new stadium. It was pretty empty, there’s not much atmosphere, it’s a bit like playing [Edinburgh] at Murrayfield, I’m looking forward to it though. The atmosphere should be great.”

Meanwhile, the Blues have also recalled the former Scotland fly-half Dan Parks, who retired from the international scene following defeat by England earlier in the month.

ULSTER: S Terblanche; C Gilroy, N Spence, P Wallace, I Whitten; I Humphreys, R Pienaar; T Court, N Brady, J Afoa, L Stevenson, D Tuohy, C Henry (capt), W Faloon, R Diack.

Replacements: A Kyriacou, P McAllister, A Macklin, T Barker, M McComish, P Marshall, S Danielli, A D’Arcy.

CARDIFF BLUES: B Blair; R Mustoe, G Evans, G Henson; T James; D Parks, L Williams; J Yapp, R Tyrell, S Andrews, C Hill, P Tito (capt), M Paterson, J Navadi, X Rush.

Replacements: T Rhys Thomas, N Trevett, R Harford, M Molitika, M Williams, R Rees, C Sweeney, C Czekaj.

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