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Dublin: 7°C Sunday 18 April 2021

Struggling Ulster set to be boosted by return of Ireland duo this weekend

Jacob Stockdale and Iain Henderson could feature against Cardiff Blues.

Stockdale is keen to be involved this weekend.
Stockdale is keen to be involved this weekend.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

GRAND SLAM WINNERS Jacob Stockdale and Iain Henderson are set to hand Ulster a welcome boost for Saturday’s Guinness Pro12 visit to Cardiff Blues, but Rory Best will be given the weekend off.

Both Stockdale and Henderson are expected to be involved in the round 18 clash in Wales as the northern province look to breathe new life into their faltering season.

Best, who along with Henderson signed a new deal with the IRFU this morning, hasn’t returned for provincial duty with Rob Herring set to deputise at hooker in the absence of the Ireland captain.

“To have them around is great, from what they have just experienced what they have come through and to have them back in the environment is a boost for us,” head coach Jono Gibbes said.

“What part they will play straight away I do not know, but just having their quality around and the kind of guys they are, particularly the forwards the guys they are, and it is obviously an exciting period for Jacob given what he has gone through.”

Stockdale scored seven tries during Ireland’s Six Nations campaign and told BBC Northern Ireland earlier that he wants to be involved with Ulster as soon as he can, while Henderson could feature off the bench as he builds up his minutes again.

Iain Henderson Henderson is likely to be named on the Ulster bench this weekend. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The 21-year-old winger, who returns to training with Ulster, said: ”I’d like to be [involved]. I want to get involved with Ulster as quickly as I can. If I get the opportunity to play against Cardiff, I’ll definitely be relishing it.”

The return of the Ireland duo comes at a good time for Ulster and Gibbes who face into Saturday’s must-win clash with the Blues on the back of consecutive defeats in the Pro14.

With just five regular season games remaining, Ulster are in real danger of missing out on the play-offs and could still be caught by Benetton Treviso for the final Champions Cup qualification berth in Conference B.

Ulster will definitely be without Robbie Diack and back row Sean Reidy for Saturday [KO 3.15pm, Sky Sports].

– With reporting by Adam McKendry in Belfast

Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud


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