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Sharks v Ulster: Herring aiming to bounce back after 'frustrating season with injuries'

Hooker Rob Herring
Rob Herring missed all of Ireland's Six Nations campaign through injury

United Rugby Championship - Sharks v Ulster

Venue: Kings Park Stadium, Durban Date: Saturday, 23 March Kick-off: 13:00 GMT

Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Ulster, Radio Foyle & BBC Sounds; text updates & report on BBC Sport website

Ulster hooker Rob Herring says he is on the verge of returning to action in the province's two-match tour to South Africa after a series of injury woes.

The forward was forced to sit out all of Ireland's successful Six Nations campaign with a bicep injury.

Ulster will face the Sharks in a URC game on Saturday, then take on the Stormers seven days later.

"It's been a little bit of a frustrating season injury-wise for me," said Herring before Saturday's game.

"Coming back from the World Cup, then getting a small calf strain, got back from that, then sustained ligament damage to my ankle, got back from that, then popped my bicep in training.

"It's been real fluky injuries. It's just one of those things you have to deal with in rugby and you've just got to focus on doing what you can.

"It's been hard watching the boys. You want to be out there helping the team improve but I'm nearly back now and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in."

'Important two weeks as a squad'

Herring has been included in a 30-strong squad for the double-header in South Africa, which will see interim head coach Richie Murphy take charge for the first time.

Last season Ulster won both their away fixtures in South Africa, defeating the Lions and Sharks on the road.

"It's an important two weeks for us as a squad, not just as regards performance and the two games, but just to be together as a squad, to build those connections.

"Touring is great for that. Playing really tough opposition in their back yard, those are the challenges that we want.

"Durban [where Ulster will play Sharks] is a great place to play, it's one of those iconic stadiums that we love playing in, and Cape Town [the venue for the Stormers game] is where I'm from and my family are all there.

"To be able to play for Ulster in front of all my family is something I cherish, so hopefully I'll be available for the game.

"Going to South Africa we need to get two back-to-back performances. That's going to be a big challenge for us.

"The quality of their squad, Sharks is not even close to representing where they are in the table. They've got an incredible squad - Springboks all over the place. They'll be desperate to get some more points and some more wins under their belts.

"We still haven't beaten the Stormers over there so that's something to get excited about too."

Herring is hoping to make up for lost time after an injury-affected campaign which has seen his appearances for Ulster limited by those numerous injuries.

"I'm coming on nicely. I got the go-ahead from the surgeon a couple of weeks ago and I'm just reintegrating into the squad now and trying to get that confidence back.

"It's one of those injuries where it just takes a bit of time to get things going, but I'm feeling reasonably good.

"The more training I do the more confidence I get in it and at some stage on the tour I'll be fully fighting fit."