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Stockdale back at 15 to boost Ulster for Pro14 semi-final in Glasgow

The Ireland international returns from injury as Dan McFarland names his team for Friday’s Scotstoun showdown.

ULSTER’S BID TO reach a first Guinness Pro14 final since 2013 has received a major boost with the news Jacob Stockdale has returned from injury to start tomorrow night’s semi-final showdown against Glasgow Warriors.

The Ireland international comes straight back into Dan McFarland’s starting XV for the trip to Scotstoun [KO 7.35pm, eir Sport/Premier Sport], slotting in at fullback in a back three alongside Robert Baloucoune and the fit-again Louis Ludik.

Jacob Stockdale Stockdale during Ulster's captain's run on Thursday. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Stockdale hasn’t played since starting Ulster’s Pro14 win over Edinburgh at the start of April but the 23-year-old has shaken off a frustrating hamstring injury to provide Ulster with a welcome shot in the arm.

The return of Stockdale and Ludik are the only two changes McFarland has made from the quarter-final win over Connacht a fortnight ago, meaning Stuart McCloskey is paired in midfield with Luke Marshall, while John Cooney and Billy Burns are retained in the half-back positions.

Rory Best will captain the side from hooker and is joined in the front row by Eric O’Sullivan and Ross Kane, with Iain Henderson and Kieran Treadwell named in the engine room.

Nick Timoney will make his 50th Ulster appearance alongside Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee in the back row, while Darren Cave could move level with Andrew Trimble in the all-time appearance list for Ulster if called upon off the bench.

Meanwhile, Glasgow have named DTH van der Merwe in their starting XV after the Canadian winger returned from a shoulder injury four weeks ahead of schedule, while captain Callum Gibbins is also back after his own lay-off.

Stuart Hogg will play his final game at Scostoun before joining Exeter Chiefs next season, while Adam Hastings — named Pro14 Young Player of the Season — continues his half-back pairing with Ali Price.

Ahead of the semi-final, Warriors head coach Dave Rennie said: “We’re in a much better place than we were 12 months ago and have trained with a real edge during this three-week break.

“We know Ulster will be a completely different animal to the side we faced here last month and we’re going to have to play better than we did that day to get the result.

“We’re all determined to a be a part of a Glasgow Final and know we’re going to have to play our best rugby of the season to get there.”

Ulster:

15. Jacob Stockdale
14. Robert Baloucoune
13. Luke Marshall
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Louis Ludik
10. Billy Burns
9. John Cooney

1. Eric O’Sullivan
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Ross Kane
4. Iain Henderson
5. Kieran Treadwell
6. Nick Timoney
7. Jordi Murphy
8. Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements:

16. Rob Herring
17. Andrew Warwick
18. Tom O’Toole
19. Alan O’Connor
20. Sean Reidy
21. David Shanahan
22. Michael Lowry
23. Darren Cave.

Glasgow Warriors:

15. Stuart Hogg
14. Tommy Seymour
13. Kyle Steyn
12. Sam Johnson
11. DTH van der Merwe
10. Adam Hastings
9. Ali Price

1. Jamie Bhatti
2. Fraser Brown
3. Zander Fagerson 
4. Scott Cummings
5. Jonny Gray 
6. Rob Harley
7. Callum Gibbins (captain)
8. Matt Fagerson.

Replacements:

16. Grant Stewart 
17. Oli Kebble
18. D’Arcy Rae
19. Ryan Wilson
20. Tom Gordon 
21. George Horne 
22. Pete Horne 
23. Huw Jones.

Referee: John Lacey [IRFU]. 

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Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Ryan Bailey

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