Ryan Constable and Maurice Field on Ulster's prospects

Ulster play Edinburgh in the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 28 April.

The BBC Sport website caught up with regular BBC Sport NI rugby pundits Ryan Constable and Maurice Field to get their views on the prospects for Ulster's biggest game since 1999.

Ryan Constable (Ex-Ulster and Australia):

On paper, if the two teams play to their full potential in Dublin on Saturday, then Ulster will win their Heineken Cup semi-final against Edinburgh, no question about it.

But the players still have to show up and play to their best on the day.

Also, you have to be wary of an Edinburgh side which has saved its best performances for European competition, is full of Scottish internationals, and saw off Toulouse in the quarter-finals.

Fly-half Paddy Jackson is pushing for a place in the Ulster team to face Edinburgh
Fly-half Paddy Jackson is pushing for a place in the Ulster team to face Edinburgh

Their results in the Pro12 have been poor, but they have stepped up to the plate pretty much every time in Europe.

Ulster have beaten them twice in Celtic competition and although this is a completely different competition and players can comfortably compartmentalise separate tournaments, psychologically it must give Brian McLaughlin's lads an advantage.

In big matches, it's the physical confrontation that generally decides the winner, and this game should be no different.

From the scrum to the breakdown and the tackle, that will decide who gets primary possession and is therefore best placed to attack and put points on the board.

The defence and the line-out will also have a crucial role to play.

Ulster have lost their last two Pro12 games, against Connacht and Leinster, but it's been obvious since their Heineken quarter-final win over Munster that they have prioritised having a real go in that competition.

There will be a huge number of passionate Ulster supporters in Dublin and with the noise and the numerical advantage, it will feel like a home tie.

It promises to be something really special.

The question of who should start at fly-half for Ulster will create some debate in the lead-up to the team announcement, but for me the selection of Paddy Jackson against Leinster was an audition for the big game in Dublin.

As far as I'm concerned he passed with flying colours and I see no reason why he shouldn't start against Edinburgh ahead of Ian Humphreys.

The other semi-final between Clermont Auvergne and Leinster is more difficult to call.

Clermont won't be bullied up front while Leinster generate their momentum by dominating the breakdown area, so I don't think Leinster will have their usual quality of possession.

The Irish province have quality right across the park and deserve their place among the European elite, so I would make them slight favourites.

If they can control the French side's destructive pack, Leinster have every chance of progressing to a potential final against their Irish provincial rivals.

Maurice Field (Ex-Ulster and Ireland)

The loss of prop John Afoa to suspension is a major blow for Ulster as he has provided the foundation on which the scrum and the performances in the Heineken Cup have been built upon.

The Edinburgh front row comprises three Scottish internationals and it's going to be a massive ask for whoever comes in.

Declan Fitzpatrick is the most likely choice as the option of moving Tom Court across would mean two positional changes.

Edinburgh skipper Greig Laidlaw
Greig Laidlaw forms a potent half-back partnership with Mike Blair

Based on his performance against Leinster, I think Paddy Jackson has earned his place at fly-half too - I think he should get the nod, but whether he will or not is a different question.

Overall, I have to fancy Ulster to win, but it will not be the foregone conclusion that some people think it might be.

Edinburgh's 11th position in the Pro12 is not a true reflection of the strength of their squad and the arrival of Michael Bradley as coach has been like a breath of fresh air - he has instilled a very different mindset.

They also have two of the sharpest half-backs in the northern hemisphere in Greig Laidlaw and Mike Blair and they could ask a lot of questions.

Ulster have beaten the Scottish outfit twice in Pro12 this season but this is a one-off cup game and nerves and the burden of expectation on Ulster could be factors.

There are a lot of sore bodies in the Ulster camp these days and the fans will just hope that they are fit enough and still have enough in the tank to see off Edinburgh.

A Heineken Cup final appearance would certainly be a positive thing for departing coach Brian McLaughlin to have on his CV.

As for the game in France, I think Clermont Auvergne will have too much across the board for Leinster.

Ryan Constable and Maurice Field were talking to BBC Sport NI's Richard Petrie

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