Mike Ruddock revealed his delight as England ace Matt Mullan made a successful comeback in the pre-season encounter with Ulster Rugby at Sixways Stadium.
Mullan, part of the England Saxons EPS squad, had surgery on both shoulders during the summer but proved his fitness ahead of Northampton Saints on the opening weekend of the Guinness Premiership season with a second half appearance for 30 minutes.
Ruddock was also able to give his other front row options a crucial run out before the trip to Franklin’s Gardens.
“Out of the debris of the result it was a real positive that Matt came through after shoulder operations in the summer,” said Ruddock.
“I had always planned to change the hookers at half-time so I could make a call on who will start against Northampton.
“in terms of other changes, Olivier Sourgens had a clear out on his knee a few weeks ago, he had hurt it in training, and it started to get sore at half-time. I could have given him a bit longer but I felt it was in our best interests to take him off and rest him up.
“Tevita Taumoepeau has had a shoulder injury and is lacking a bit of match fitness so we felt 40 minutes would be good for him. In the end we achieved our front row goals, but it didn’t change the outcome because we were not good enough second half.”
The only injury issue from the game surrounded new signing Calum MacRae, who joined this week from Edinburgh Rugby.
“Calum has hurt his thumb and might have damaged his ligament. We will check it out and know more in the coming days,” said Ruddock.
“I had to make some tough decisions in the second half against Ulster to make sure we had key players available for next week and Northampton.
“It had an impact on the result but the only result I am interested in now is the first block of five games in the Guinness Premiership. Hopefully the fans will fully understand that.”