Ireland’s Tommy Bowe looks set to be available for a low-in-confidence Ulster side that will change their priorities ahead of a difficult away trip to Treviso this Sunday, according to assistant coach Allen Clarke.
Having lost six successive away games, and four on the bounce in the Guinness Pro 12, it is by no means a forgone conclusion victory is there for the taking against a struggling Italian outfit growing in confidence after back-to-back wins in Festive derby battles.
Bowe had six stitches inserted into eye wound following a clash of heads last Saturday and was finally hauled off with what was said to be a dead leg. However, he could be on the plane to Italy and so could Jared Payne after missing action since he won his Ireland cap in November due to a foot injury.
Normally priority would be given to team selection going the final two European Cup games, but with a real dog fight at the top of the Pro 12, Ulster are sure send a strong side to Parma where Ulster have struggled.
“This is a priority game for us,” explained Clarke, who has responsibility for the forwards at Ulster. “It’s our only focus at the moment, as it is the end of this block of Pro12 games. But it is important we pick the right side and group of players to do a good job in Treviso”, said Clarke, who is frustrated at Ulster’s lack of consistency this season.
“I think at the moment, there has been so much inconsistency in terms of our performances,” said Clarke. “For example, in the first half against Leinster I believe it was the best we’ve been since our win over Glasgow back in October. There was a more continuity, making line breaks, but we didn’t put them away.
“There are elements of our game that are strong one week, and bad the next. We are not able to get that complete 80 minute performance. But we trust in the players and their work ethic. We are not in a position we wish to be in, but only five points are separating the top five teams.”
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