Ferris to start against Munster

Brian McLaughlin has named Stephen Ferris in his starting XV for the massive Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Munster on Easter Sunday (1.45pm).

Brian McLaughlin has named Stephen Ferris in his starting XV for the massive Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Munster on Easter Sunday (1.45pm).

The inclusion of Ferris, who missed last year's quarter-final defeat to Northampton, will come as a major boost to McLaughlin.

The Ireland flanker picked up an ankle injury against Aironi in last week's PRO12 clash, but has received extensive treatment throughout the week to be passed fit.

Ulster have made just one change to the starting team that registered a 45-7 victory over the Italians at Ravenhill last Friday.

Dan Tuohy returns to partner Johann Muller in the second row, with Lewis Stevenson making way.

Ireland internationals Tom Court and Rory Best are in the front row with All Black John Afoa, while Chris Henry and Pedrie Wannenburg join Ferris in the back row once more.

The backline has a settled look about it with Ruan Pienaar and Ian Humphreys continuing at half back.

Paddy Wallace and Darren Cave have nailed down a settled partnership in midfield and will hope their cohesion pays dividend on Sunday.

Craig Gilroy adds youth to an experienced back three that also includes Stefan Terblanche and Andew Trimble.

The only other change to the match day squad sees centre Nevin Spence included among the replacements at the expense of Ian Whitten.

McLaughlin praised the work of the Ulster medical staff for their work in getting Ferris back to match fitness.

"Stevie will play subject to fitness,” the head coach said. “At this stage we are hopeful that he will be available and a lot of credit should go to our medical team and physios for getting him into this position.

“He brings a great deal to this team and gives the players around him a massive lift. That is what we need going into a game like this."

McLaughlin is expecting fireworks from the very first whistle.

"It will be an unbelievably physical battle. They will be smarting from their defeat to Leinster at the weekend and they will want to make up for that by beating us on Sunday."

McLaughlin has an almost full strength squad to pick from and he admitted that selection was difficult.

"We are as close to full strength as possible so it wasn't an easy job picking the squad.

“We only have 23 slots and there are a few disappointed boys.

“Everyone has been working hard over the past few months and some are unlucky to miss out."

Munster have progressed to the last eight having won six games from six in their pool. The two-time Heineken Cup winners have lost just twice at Thomond Park in the history of the competition, to Cardiff back in 1998 and Leicester Tigers in 2007.

The winner on Sunday will earn a home semi final against either Edinburgh or Toulouse, who face each other on Saturday.

Ulster (v Munster): S Terblanche; A Trimble, D Cave, P Wallace, C Gilroy; I Humphreys, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, J Afoa, J Muller (c), D Tuohy, S Ferris, C Henry, P Wannenburg;

Replacements: N Brady, P McAllister, A Macklin, L Stevenson, W Faloon, P Marshall, N Spence, A D'Arcy

Unavailable due to injury:

Jared Payne (achilles tendon), Simon Danielli (hamstring), Tim Barker (back), Chris Cochrane (foot), James McKinney (shoulder)

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