Rugby Union: Humphreys fit again for cup tie

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The Independent Online
DAVID HUMPHREYS is fit to captain Ulster in their European Cup semi-final against Stade Francais at Ravenhill on Saturday.

The Irish international stand-off suffered a shoulder injury in the dying minutes of the quarter-final victory over 1996 European champions Toulouse on 11 December. "Initially I was a bit worried about being fit for the semi-final but I am fine now," Humphreys said.

The coach Harry Williams will delay announcing the team for as long as possible as he awaits fitness reports on several players including the centre Mark McCall, who has been out for 18 weeks with a neck problem.

"We are only naming a squad of 22 at this stage, but David Humphreys will be captain," said Williams. Ulster look set for a capacity 20,000 crowd - there are only a couple of hundred seats still unsold.

Stade Francais, the reigning French champions, will field the side that beat Pontypridd 71-14 in the quarter-final last month.

The club captain, Vincent Mosca, stays on the bench in favour of Laurent Pedrosa, and the club's nine internationals will include England flanker Richard Pool-Jones and Italian stand-off Diego Dominguez.

Rugby have booked their place in the second round of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Cup by beating Leicester 31-16 on aggregate, despite losing 11-23 in the second leg.

Ulster (squad): S Mason, S Coulter, J Bell, M McCall, J Cunningham, S Duncan, A Parke, D Humphreys (capt), B Cunningham, A Matchett, S Bell, J Fitzpatrick, A Clarke, R Weir, R Irwin, G Leslie, M Blair, G Longwell, S McKinty, D Topping, A Ward, T McWhirter.

Stade Francais: S Viars; A Gomes, R Dourthe, C Mytton, T Lombard; D Dominguez (capt), C Laussucq; S Marconnet, L Pedrosa, P de Villiers, H Chaffardon, D George, C Moni, R Pool-Jones, C Juillet. Replacements: L Lousteau, F Comba, S Keith, D Auradou, M Lievremont, V Moscato, S Simon.

Referee: J Fleming (Scotland).