Stuart McCloskey expecting a midfield showdown

Tomorrow night’s United Rugby Championship quarter-final between Ulster and Munster at Kingspan Stadium could be decided by the heavyweight clash in the centre.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Thursday, 2nd June 2022, 7:00 am

In the white shirts representing Ulster will be Irish internationals Stuart McCloskey and James Hume, while Munster are likely to have former Ulster midfielder Chris Farrell and South African World Cup winner Damian De Allende.

McCloskey is aware of the threat that the Munster centres pose, but he is backing himself and Hume to win the battle and hopefully the war.

“De Allende is a decent player,” said McCloskey.

Stuart McCloskey feels the midfield battle will be key against Munster. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“He’s played pretty well all year and I don’t think there’s a great deal between us.

“We play different games but we’re both pretty good number 12s.

“I’m sure Chrissie and James will be going at it pretty hard as well so that will be an interesting one to watch too.

“My partnership with James is not something we have overly thought about or overly worked on.

“I think time together training and time together playing helps and you get a feel for each other’s styles.

“I do think we blend quite well together as a centre partnership.

“It’s just the things we do and it helps that he’s a great player.

“James I would say is sometimes one of the best 13s in the world and he’s still playing some great stuff as well.

“It’s easy to play with a guy like that as you give him the ball and get out of his way.

“That’s what it’s felt like for me and hopefully he’s felt that I’ve helped him along as well.

“I personally try not to take as much emotion as possible and just go in there and do a job and do what I do well and hope our guys are in the right place to be their best.

“Physically everybody will be up for it going into a quarter-final and if you’re not up for a quarter-final you’re not playing the right sport.

“I’ll keep a cool head. I am looking forward to the game and let the quarter-final atmosphere take care of the rest of it.”

Munster have beaten Ulster the last three times they have met but McCloskey feels Ulster can turn the tables.

“You take the positives out of those games,” he said.

“The odds on them beating us three times in a row would surely be quite low.

“The games have been tight and I’m sure it’ll be a tight game on Friday night as well with two pretty evenly matched sides.

“Hopefully us being at home will push us over the edge.

“They always say that between the two teams, whoever is playing at home is probably the favourite so hopefully we’ve done enough.

“We’ve played some good stuff in the last couple of weeks and we just carry that through.

“Munster have a decent pack but I think their style is fairly similar in a way.

“They do lots of nice starter plays and dress things up quite nicely.

“I’d say we’re maybe a bit more direct so it’s a clash of styles in that way I suppose.”