Irish internationals Rory Best and Jared Payne will play no part in this weekend’s Champions Cup fixture away to La Rochelle.
Best, who picked up a hamstring injury in training last month, is still “week to week” according to head coach Jono Gibbes.
Speaking to Independent.ie, he revealed:
“He’s has had some involvement in our sessions this week. He’s moved to the next stage for sure and he’s had a bit of involvement in the session I’ve just come from. It’s a players’ day off tomorrow so we’ll see how he goes.”
International midfielder Jared Payne has yet to appear for the northern province this season and is still recovering from migraine symptoms which cut his British and Irish Lions tour short and, according to Gibbes, and his recovery is “still ongoing”.
Despite being unavailable for selection this week, Best will travel with the squad to France in order to contribute to the environment. Gibbes appreciates Best’s influence in such an important week for the province.
“It’s a big match and to have him in and around in the environment would be good. I’m not sure how that’s going to pan out but I think if he was the water carrier it would be good to have him around the guys for sure.”
Scrum-half John Cooney and back-rower Jean Deysel having sustained knocks against Wasps are hopeful in returning to full tilt in time for this weekend’s game.
After an impressive victory away to Harlequins, La Rochelle are in flying this season. Ulster will need to be at their best in order to compete with France’s newest powerhouse.
Billy Keenan, Pundit Arena