Fly-half Paddy Jackson, centre Darren Cave and Chris Henry are the last men standing of Ulster’s Ireland World Cup contingent.
Jackson and Cave both start this evening in the Guinness Pro12 inter-provincial against Munster at Thomond Park while flanker Henry will be introduced later in the game.
While Ulster skipper Rory Best is given another week to recover, Iain Henderson, Tommy Bowe and Jared Payne have all gone under the surgeon’s knife post-World Cup and will be watching games from the sidelines for quite a while.
[timgcap+Tommy Bowe injured in the World Cup]tommyBoweInjuredVArg_large.jpg[/timgcap]
The 23-year-old Jackson, though, is hoping to bring a little bit extra to the table this evening following his first World Cup experience.
“It was a superb experience and although I didn’t get as much time on the pitch as I wanted, it was great to see how things worked, and hopefully if I get the chance again.
“You do learn a lot. Joe Schmidt is a great coach and you learn a lot off him and also from the players around you. Hopefully I can now bring everything I have learned back to Ulster.
“With that in mind, it is great to look forward to these derby games where the intensity is high. It’s going to be a very tough battle at Thomond Park, it always is,” added 13-times capped Jackson, who believes Ulster must now get back to their winning ways away.
“Tonight is going to be a massive challenge and a very physical encounter. It’s always tough to get a win down there.
“Hopefully with Darren and myself back in, we can help get that win.
“I would imagine it is going to be tight again.
“Being an inter-provincial, everyone is looking to put their best foot forward. There are players normally on the fringes attempting to get their name in the frame for the Six Nations.
“It’s a derby match so everyone will be up for it.”
Jackson has an admirer in fellow international Darren Cave, who believes he is an under-rated player.
Cave said: “That may sound like a stupid thing to say considering that he is an Ireland international.
“From a centre’s point of view, he’s fantastic to play outside with his passing and the way he manages the game.
“He has so much potential and he will be prominent for the next eight or nine years.”
Cave didn’t get a run during the World Cup, but acknowledges the brutality of the current game.
“I was rooming with Tommy the whole time at the World Cup and I knew he was badly hurt in that game against Argentina, but I didn’t think just how bad.
“I thought he might have been touch and go for the Six Nations, but to hear he will be out for six months is devastating news.
“I didn’t know about Iain until he had his surgery. With Jared out as well, it’s as well we have at Ulster such good players to come in.”
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