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Fresh contract extension for Darren Cave as he leads unchanged Ulster back-line against Ospreys
Ulster’s former forwards coach Allen Clarke stands between them and a second Pro14 win on the bounce.

ULSTER HEAD COACH Jono Gibbes has reinstated Sean Reidy in his back row for tomorrow’s Pro14 meeting with Ospreys (kikc-off 19.35, BBC) at Kingspan Stadium.

Sean Reidy Jonathan Porter / INPHO Jonathan Porter / INPHO / INPHO

Reidy is one of four changes from the side who recorded an impressive win away to Edinburgh last weekend, the Ireland international will start at number eight while Jean Deysel takes a rare turn as openside at the expense of Nick Timoney.

All four alterations come in the pack, with props Callum Black and Ross Kane packing down either side of captain Rory Best. In place of Matt Dalton, Kieran Treadwell returns to partner Iain Henderson in the second row.

With their rivals in the chase for a Champions Cup playoff place, Benetton, taking on Leinster in Dublin tomorrow night represents a chance for Ulster to put some distance between them and the Italians who sit just one point back.

Hope of an automatic Champions Cup place and a Pro14 playoff berth also remains. And Gibbes’ unchanged back-line can help take another sizable chunk out of the eight-point cushion Edinburgh currently sit on.

In the centre Stuart McCloskey partners Darren Cave, who Ulster today announced had signed a contract extension to keep him in his native province until the end of next season.

This month marks 11 years since I earned my first Ulster cap and I still feel that I have much more to give,” said the 11-cap international centre.

“We have a lot of work to do but the guys are committed to improving as individuals and as a collective. Hopefully we can finish this season strongly and then bring that through to the new campaign.

“I believe the future of Ulster Rugby is bright and I’m really looking forward to being part of that.”

Darren Cave 21/1/2018 James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Operations director Bryn Cunningham, who is still searching for a head coach to leading the bright future Cave alluded to, hailed the 31-year-old not only due to his rugby intelligence, but his strength as a role model.

“Darren has been an integral part of Ulster Rugby for over a decade and he still has a lot to offer both on and off the pitch,” Cunningham said in this morning’s statement.

“He’s a very intelligent player who has an excellent understanding of the game and he communicates superbly with others. He provides a different threat to our other centres in attack and he is also a very astute defender, which he has proven time and time again.

“In addition to what he adds on the pitch, he is a really good role model and mentor for younger players in the team. We are losing a few senior players at the end of this season and therefore it’s particularly important that we keep hold of guys like Cavey.”


15. Charles Piutau
14. Louis Ludik
13. Darren Cave
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny McPhillips
9. John Cooney

1. Callum Black
2. Rory Best (Capt)
3. Ross Kane
4. Kieran Treadwell
5. Iain Henderson
6. Matty Rea
7. Jean Deysel
8. Sean Reidy


16. Rob Herring
17. Andy Warwick
18. Tom O’Toole
19. Alan O’Connor
20. Nick Timoney
21. Dave Shanahan
22. Luke Marshall
23. Tommy Bowe


15 Dan Evans
14 Jeff Hassler
13 Kieron Fonotia
12 Owen Watkin
11 Hanno Dirksen
10 Dan Biggar
9 Tom Habberfield

1 Nicky Smith
2 Scott Otten
3 Dmitri Arhip
4 Bradley Davies
5 Adam Beard
6 Alun Wyn Jones (Capt)
7 Sam Cross
8 James King


16 Ifan Phillips
17 Rhodri Jones
18 Ma’afu Fia
19 Lloyd Ashley
20 Guy Mercer
21 Matthew Aubrey
22 Sam Davies
23 James Hook

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