Stuart McCloskey back for ring-rusty Ulster against Cardiff

Iain Henderson’s presence in Les Kiss’s side will help to pack build solid platfrom

The presence of Iain Henderson in the backrow, returning from international duty, is a huge plus for Ulster. Photograph: Inpho

The presence of Iain Henderson in the backrow, returning from international duty, is a huge plus for Ulster. Photograph: Inpho

 

Cardiff Blues v Ulster, Arms Park (5.15, live on Sky Sports)

Stuart McCloskey’s recovery from a foot injury that has kept him sidelined since September is an important fillip for Les Kiss as his side heads to Wales looking for an upturn in recent fortunes. The fact that their game against Zebre was postponed last time out leaves them a little rusty match wise as a team.

McCloskey partners Luke Marshall in midfield while there is plenty of footballing ability in the back three. Brett Herron’s task alongside the consistently excellent Ruan Pienaar is to maximise that cutting edge.

The challenge will fall at the hands and feet of the front five, an area where Ulster have occasionally looked a little underpowered but the presence of Iain Henderson in the backrow, returning from international duty, is a huge plus. Chris Henry will finally get to play his first match since last season.

Cardiff have Gethin Jenkins, Sam Warburton, Lloyd Williams and Alex Cuthbert back in the starting line-up and will be hoping to atone for what they feel was a missed opportunity last time out in defeat to Connacht.  

The home side have won just one of their last five league matches while Ulster are on a run of three defeats. Given the relative strength of the teams, Cardiff will start as marginal favourites but if the visitors can get some quick ball, they have the players to capitalise.

CARDIFF BLUES: B Scully; A Cuthbert, R Lee-Lo, W Halaholo, T James; S Shingler, L Williams; G Jenkins (capt), K Dacey, T Filise; G Earle, J Turnbull; E Jenkins, S Warburton, J Navidi. Replacements: M Rees, R Gill, S Andrews, J Hoeata, M Cook, T Williams, Nicky Robinson, M Morgan.
ULSTER: C Piutau; T Bowe, L Marshall, S McCloskey, C Gilroy; B Herron, R Pienaar; K McCall, R Herring (capt), W Herbst; P Browne, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, C Henry, S Reidy. Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Ah You, K Treadwell, C Ross, P Marshall, L Ludik, D Cave. Referee: A Brace (Ireland)

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.