THE challenge is great for Ulster this week as they have made the trip back to South Africa to face the Cell C Sharks in their rearranged URC fixture.

They were due to meet last October but a severe bout of gastroenteritis forced the game to be cancelled and the sides will fully fill this fixture on Saturday at Kings Park in Durban (midday Irish time, live on Viaplay Sports).

The Irish province made the long journey south this week off the back of a disappointing 17-11 defeat against Glasgow Warriors at a wet Scotstoun last Friday. 

Although the losing bonus point ensured they stay third in the URC standings, it's only just and they have lost further ground on Leinster and the DHL Stormers who sit first and second respectively.

"We were disappointed in how clinical we were against Glasgow," said Ulster assistant coach, Dan Soper.

"The weather conditions were challenging but we need to keep improving on our fundamentals. We got a lot of things right however there were some areas that let us down and we’ve had a good look at that this week.

"On their playing surface stopping mauls at source is key and our forwards were disappointed but they are a determined bunch and we will see better this week."

Having seemed to turn a corner prior to the Six Nations with a pair of wins, the last thing Dan McFarland's charges will want is a pair of defeats that would leave them in a sticky situation with games beginning to run out.

South Africa hasn't been the happiest of hunting grounds for the northern hemisphere clubs, but Ulster did claim a 39-37 win over Emirates Lions in October before this week's game was originally due to take place.

"It’s a challenge but in fairness to the medical and performance team there has been a lot of thought into how we can best prepare ourselves and how we go about this week," Soper added.

"We are physically preparing for them, we aren’t using the travel or heat as an excuse. The guys have been preparing with hot baths and we will be ready for Saturday.

"The players will have learned from their previous trips, the more you do it the better you get at it we have and factored that into preparation for this one.

"A big challenge, their last game against the Lions, the Sharks overpowered them and have very dangerous powerful players so it's an excellent challenge for us."