Dan McFarland hopeful that Ulster won’t lose a third interpro fixture in a row

Ulster supremo Dan McFarland is holding off until tomorrow to confirm which of his players are available for Saturday’s URC clash with Munster at Thomond Park.

But McFarland confides that he is more confident that Ulster’s fixture will go ahead this week after the disappointment of the Connacht game scheduled for December 26 and last weekend’s Leinster game falling foul due to Covid-19 cases.

McFarland says that the issues over availability this week are “mainly Covid related” but he is optimistic that the Thomond Park fixture will proceed.

Asked about a rundown of the squad’s availability, he replied: “We’re going to leave that until tomorrow until we have a better handle on things. It will be mainly Covid-related.

“It was really exciting, coming from Europe into two home interpros. We were really looking forward to that.

“Yes, it’s frustrating, it’s a funny old world when you take it in your stride and you get on with it.

“The bottom line is if people are getting sick we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure they are healthy.

“We’re in a pretty good place today. In terms of moral, it gets frustrating but it is what it is.

“We started preparations for the Leinster game and that was called off relatively early – when you found out, I found out maybe an hour and a half before.

“The Connacht game was later but I knew that there was a possibility but the players didn’t until late on.

“We’re in a good place, we arrived this morning with a good chunk of the squad here.

“We’ve started looking at the Munster game. It’s a great place to be when you are back in work and prepping to play a massive game.”

McFarland’s plan is to proceed as if the interpro encounter is going ahead.

Munster returned to action on New Year’s Day with the 10-8 defeat at Connacht, but Ulster haven’t played since before Christmas, when they beat Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup – and on the back of their big first round pool win at Clermont.

“It’s safe to say we are in a better position than we were in last week,” McFarland stated.

“We’ve got rounds of testing, you can never be completely confident but as I say, I’d be a lot more confident than I was last week.

“We’re extremely lucky with the support staff we have here, we have regular testing, there’s a huge amount of information available to people.

“The medical care in on hand all the time. We are in a lucky position, There are a lot of people who don’t have that kind of support.

“We all want to play and a lot people out there want to see us. We’ll do everything we can to do that.”

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