Ospreys v Ulster: Iain Henderson returns from injury; Michael Lowry starts at outhalf; Stuart McCloskey to hit centrury milestone

Iain Henderson
Iain Henderson

Stuart McCloskey will make his 100th Ulster appearance in Friday’s Guinness PRO14 encounter against Ospreys at Morganstone Brewery Field (7.35pm).

The 26-year-old centre made his debut against Dragons in February 2014 and has been a regular in the side since then, as evidenced by his tally of 17 starts in the current campaign.

John Cooney

John Cooney

However, the big news of the day came in the pack and the return of Iain Henderson from injury, and he will partner captain Alan O’Connor in the second row.

Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy prop Eric O’Sullivan, who has played in 18 of Ulster’s 20 games so far this season, Rob Herring and Marty Moore complete the tight five. Clive Ross, starting for the first time this season, is joined in the back row by Nick Timoney and Jordi Murphy. The latter has been released by the Ireland coaching team.

Scrumhalf John Cooney is another to be discharged from international duty and he will partner Michel Lowry at half back. It will be Lowry’s first start in the flyhalf berth.

McCloskey will combine with Darren Cave in midfield and together they boast 319 Ulster caps. Angus Kernohan, Louis Ludik and Peter Nelson are named in the back three.

Friday 11th January 2018 | Ulster Captain's Run''Michael Lowry during Captain's Run ahead of Ulster's vital Round 5 Heineken Champions Cup clash against Racing 92 at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday 12th January 2019. Photo by John Dickson / DICKSONDIGITAL

Friday 11th January 2018 | Ulster Captain's Run''Michael Lowry during Captain's Run ahead of Ulster's vital Round 5 Heineken Champions Cup clash against Racing 92 at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday 12th January 2019. Photo by John Dickson / DICKSONDIGITAL

The forward replacements are John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Sean Reidy, while the backline cover will be provided by Dave Shanahan, James Hume and Rob Lyttle.

Ulster: (15-9): P Nelson; A Kernohan, D Cave, S McCloskey, L Ludik; M Lowry, J Cooney;

(1-8): E O’Sullivan, R Herring, M Moore, A O’Connor (captain), I Henderson, C Ross, J Murphy, N Timoney;

Replacements (16-23): J Andrew, A Warwick, T O’Toole, K Treadwell, S Reidy, D Shanahan, J Hume, R Lyttle.

Ospreys team to play Ulster

The Ospreys team is:

OSPREYS

15 Dan Evans

14 Hanno Dirksen

13 Cory Allen

12 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler

11 Luke Morgan

10 Sam Davies (Capt)

9 Tom Habberfield

1 Jordan Lay

2 Scott Baldwin

3 Tom Botha

4 Lloyd Ashley

5 Bradley Davies

6 Olly Cracknell

7 Sam Cross

8 James King

REPLACEMENTS

16 Scott Otten

17 Rowan Jenkins

18 Ma’afu Fia

19 Will Griffiths

20 Rob McCusker

21 Matthew Aubrey

22 Luke Price

23 Keelan Giles