Steven Kitshoff: Ulster mull giving Springboks World Cup star debut in Glasgow

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Dan McFarland said on 31 October that South Africa’s World Cup winner Steven Kitshoff was in line to make his Ulster debut against Glasgow this weekend

Ulster defence coach Jonny Bell says the Irish province are yet to decide whether Springboks World Cup winner Steven Kitshoff will make his debut against Glasgow on Saturday.

Head coach Dan McFarland said three weeks ago that Kitshoff’s first Ulster game was likely to be this weekend.

“Selection hasn’t been decided yet,” said Bell on Monday.

The Ulster defence coach was pleased to report that the prop had arrived and “has got to know all the boys”.

“Dan will make those calls in due course but it’s certainly great to have Steven on board,” he added.

“He’s excited and looking forward to getting to know the boys and getting out on the pitch.

“It’s great. It’s been talked about for a long time and he’s in meetings and he’s around the place.

“He’s just a really humble, grounded kind of guy. I’m only just getting to know him but he’s a double World Cup winner and you don’t become a double World Cup winner without having a certain amount of gravitas and character and you can see that in the way he speaks and carries himself.

“The boys are excited about having him around and picking his brain.”

Kitshoff’s arrival is a further boost to an Ulster side whose four wins in their opening five games has them in third place in the United Rugby Championship – two points behind their opponents on Saturday and Leinster, who head the table on scoring difference.

Ulster followed a narrow away opening win over Zebre by beating the Bulls at home and while their young selection lost narrowly against Connacht in Galway, they bounced back with home wins over champions Munster and the Lions.

Ulster defence coach Jonny Bell
Jonny Bell believes second-placed Glasgow could give Ulster their toughest examination of the season so far at Scotstoun on Saturday

However, Bell, who was previously an attack coach at Glasgow, indicated that Saturday’s away contest could be the toughest examination so far this season of Ulster’s credentials.

“We’re pretty pleased with where we are but you can’t rest on your laurels as you are playing a team now that are second in the log and are playing a very expansive and open game of rugby,” he said.

“They are at home and they’ve won 21 out of 22 games at Scotstoun so it’s going to be a massive challenge but a great opportunity for us and the boys are excited about it.”

The Ulster defence coach was pleased with the way the side repelled late attacks in the two recent narrow home wins but says they will be facing a “different style of game from Glasgow”.

“They like to put lots of width in the game to they are going to challenge us particularly in our defensive system.”

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