McLaughlin’s BOD hope

No one would benefit more from Brian O’Driscoll’s absenceat Twickenham on Saturday than Brian McLaughlin — but the Ulster coach is keeping his fingers crossed that the Irish centre is fit to play in the Heineken Cup final.

O’Driscoll underwent minor surgery on a knee injury on Friday but the Ulster boss expects the Leinster legend to start in the decider.

“I am sure wild horses wouldn’t hold him back,” said McLaughlin in Belfast yesterday. “These are the occasions that, as a coach, you want all your players fit and available for. You don’t want to see anybody injured.

“These are the days that everybody dreams of playing in. You wouldn’t wish anyone to miss an occasion like this. Hopefully Brian will be ready to go on the day.”

McLaughlin also sounded a positive note about his impressive number seven, Chris Henry, who hasn’t played since suffering a shin injury against Leinster in the RaboDirect Pro12 game at Ravenhill on April 20.

Henry is among a provisional squad of 31 players named by McLaughlin yesterday and the player described himself as “fine” after two training sessions and extensive physio work on the team’s visit to Portugal last week.

ULSTER SQUAD (Forwards): T Court, D Fitzpatrick, C Black, J Afoa, A Macklin, P McAllister, R Best, N Brady, J Muller, L Stevenson, D Tuohy, I Henderson, C Henry, S Ferris, W Faloon, MMcComish, P Wannenburg.

(Backs): I Porter, P Marshall, R Pienaar, I Humphreys, P Jackson, N Spence, I Whitten, D Cave, P Wallace, L Marshall, C Gilroy, A Trimble, A D’Arcy, S Terblanche.

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