Herring set for return but Hume needs ACL surgery

Rob Herring and James Hume
Herring (left) is set to feature this weekend but Hume faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines [Getty Images/Inpho]

Ulster are set to welcome back Irish international Rob Herring for Saturday's United Rugby Championship game at Scarlets.

The hooker has missed the last two matches through injury but will be available for this weekend's trip to Wales.

Centre Stewart Moore is also available, while wing Jacob Stockdale and scrum-half Dave Shanahan have been passed fit after going through return to play protocols.

However, Ulster assistant coach Dan Soper has revealed that James Hume requires anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery.

Last month, Hume sustained what Ulster called a "significant knee injury" in a URC win over Cardiff.

"He's going to have an extended time on the sidelines which is pretty disappointing," said Soper.

Despite the severity of his injury, Hume - who has three Ireland caps - is in "good spirits" according to Soper.

"He's obviously gutted. We've had enough guys go through it. We're always aware of the battle they go through so James is fully aware of it."

Soper added: "He's pretty philosophical about it. It's part of the job, the risk of that sort of injury.

"He's a determined young man so no doubt he'll see it as an opportunity to get better at some other things when he does come back."

'It's incredibly tight'

Having claimed a crucial win over Benetton last time out, Ulster face Scarlets on Saturday in the midst of a fierce battle between several teams for the eight URC play-off spots.

With three regular season games remaining, only six points separate Stormers in fifth and the Lions in 11th.

And Soper believes that this weekend's contest at 14th-place Scarlets is "definitely" a must-win game for Ulster ahead of tough interpros against Leinster and Munster.

"We're at three games left and it's so tight, it's incredibly tight for the top eight," said Soper.

He added: "The Scarlets have had a tough enough season and on the face of it everyone expects that we'd go over there and do a job.

"But I think it's going to be tough."