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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 19 February, 2019

Henderson returns to help Ulster force a way into European quarter-finals

The second row has been nursing a thumb injury for the past month, but looks set to lend his weight to both Ulster and Ireland in the coming weeks.

Moore, Henderson, Best and O'Sullivan prepare for a scrum against the Scarlets.
Moore, Henderson, Best and O'Sullivan prepare for a scrum against the Scarlets.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

TWO DAYS ON from being named in Ireland’s Six Nations squad, second row Iain Henderson has returned from injury to aid Ulster in tomorrow’s Heineken Champions Cup Pool 4 finale away to Leicester (kick-off 15.15, BT Sport).

It had been feared that a thumb injury would keep the powerful lock out of action for both club and country, but he has been passed fit to start alongside Kieran Treadwell in Ulster’s engine room.

Henderson’s comeback sees Alan O’Connor drop to the bench in the sole change to the XV which started last week’s dramatic win over Racing 92 in the Kingspan Stadium. 

John Cooney missed out on the win over the Top14 side with a back spasm, but returns to take a seat among the replacements with Dave Shanahan holding on to the number 9 shirt.

Out-half Billy Burns picked up a calf injury during the win over Racing, but has pulled through to start ahead of Michael Lowry.

A repeat of Ulster’s 2014 win over the Tigers at Welford Road, would guarantee Dan McFarland’s men progress to the quarter-finals for the first time since that same year.

Anything less will leave the northern province seeking favours from elsewhere, not least tonight’s meeting between Edinburgh and Ruan Pienaar’s Montpellier. A home win there would give Ulster greater leeway in their bid to advance to the last eight.

Topping the pool and taking a home quarter-final is not out of range either if Scarlets can spring a surprise away to Racing 92.

Manu Tuilagi Manu Tuilagi will be at the heart of things for Geordan Murphy's Tigers. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Tigers will have plenty to say in the matter, however, as head coach Geordan Murphy will start his players involved in England’s squad. Manu Tuilagi and Matt Toomua form a dangerous centre partnership outside George Ford, while the speed of Jonny May will give Ulster plenty to worry about.

Leicester Tigers

15 Jonah Holmes
14 Jonny May
13 Manu Tuilagi
12 Matt Toomua
11 Jordan Olowofela
10 George Ford (capt)
9 Ben Youngs

1 Greg Bateman
2 Jake Kerr
3 Dan Cole
4 Mike Fitzgerald
5 Graham Kitchener
6 Mike Williams
7 Brendon O’Connor
8 Sione Kalamafoni


16 Ross McMillan
17 Facundo Gigena
18 Joe Heyes
19 Harry Wells
20 Will Evans
21 Ben White
22 Joe Ford
23 Sam Aspland-Robinson


15. Louis Ludik
14. Robert Baloucoune
13. Will Addison
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Billy Burns
9. Dave Shanahan

1. Eric O’Sullivan
2. Rory Best (Capt.)
3. Marty Moore
4. Iain Henderson
5. Kieran Treadwell
6. Sean Reidy
7. Jordi Murphy
8. Marcell Coetzee


16. Rob Herring
17. Andy Warwick
18. Ross Kane
19. Alan O’Connor
20. Nick Timoney
21. John Cooney
22. Michael Lowry
23. Darren Cave

Ahead of the final weekend of European pool games, Murray Kinsella, Andy Dunne and Gavan Casey look at what each of the provinces can expect, and who impressed last weekend:

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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