Ulster bid to continue winning streak away to Scarlets

Jonny Bell (right) with Darren Cave who has been called up to the Ireland squad
Jonny Bell (right) with Darren Cave who has been called up to the Ireland squad

Jonny Bell says Ulster are determined to sign off the first phase of their season with a seventh straight victory away to the Scarlets on Saturday night.

Most of Ulster's first choice players are on an Ireland training camp this week, including centre Darren Cave who is the latest player to be called up.

Bell confirmed a number of players will be released back to Ulster on Thursday.

"This is a time of year for others to stake a claim and really push their credentials," said the assistant coach.

After losing their two opening fixtures in the Pro12, Ulster have won their last four as well as securing back-to-back victories in the Heineken Cup.

They managed a try-scoring bonus point in the home win over Cardiff Blues last week with their strongest team available.

With a number of frontline players absent for Saturday's trip to Wales, Bell believes the fringe players are more than capable of ensuring the province maintains their impressive form.

"Go back four or five years ago, if we'd been in this situation we'd have been seriously concerned," admitted Ulster's former European Cup winner.

"Now we have really good strength and depth in the squad.

"It's a good opportunity for some of these guys, because they sit waiting for chances.

"Sometimes those chances come through injuries, sometimes they come through guys being away with the national camp. They have to be ready to go and adapt and grab those chances with both hands.

"The Scarlets will have players in and out like ourselves, and they've been a little bit up and down this season.

"It will be tough but we've had a good run and we're desperate to finish off this block of games well to set ourselves up for the next block.

"After this, it will be a good time for players to get a bit of a break to physically and mentally recharge, because that pre-Christmas and Christmas period is so important."

Ulster captain Johann Muller has been ruled out for four to six weeks with a calf injury.

Bell is confident however that he will return in time for the back-to-back Heineken Cup games against Treviso in the middle of December.

"It's a big blow to lose a player of his status for one game, never mind a number of games," he said.

"He has a small tear in his calf, so it's just about managing it.

"Everything will be geared towards getting him back (for Treviso) but there is no point rushing him back and then it going again, because that is the nature of the injury."

Top Stories