Rory Best: Ulster remain positive on captain’s fitness ahead of crunch play-off against Connacht

Rory Best during Ulster training at at Kingspan Stadium ahead of the PRO14 play-off against Connacht
Rory Best during Ulster training at at Kingspan Stadium ahead of the PRO14 play-off against Connacht
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Rory Best is expected to lead Ulster on Saturday evening for what would be his last home game for Ulster when they meet Connacht in a Guinness PRO14 semi-final qualifier in Belfast.

The Ulster skipper has been battling with an ankle injury picked up during the European Champions Cup quarter-final loss to Leinster in the Aviva Stadium at the start of last month.

But the talismanic hooker, who announced recently that he would be retiring from the professional game at the end of the World Cup in the autumn, took part in training on Tuesday at Kingspan Stadium and appears to be ready to lead his side against Connacht as they bid to reach a semi-final clash away to Glasgow in two weeks time.

Asked how Best had been progressing with the injury, head coach Dan McFarland said: “Well, Rory is training (at the moment) so there is positive progress at the moment.

“We are not going to definitely decide anything on that yet, but it is looking relatively positive.”

The new for fellow Irish international Jacob Stockdale was not so positive.

He suffered a hamstring issue in the win against Edinburgh two weeks ago and is not expected to feature in this weekend’s game.

McFarland said: “Jacob’s not training at the moment, so it is unlikely he will be involved.”

Sean Reidy continues to follow the return to play protocols having suffered concussion in last Saturday’s 14-13 win over Leinster as the curtain fell on the regulational Guinness PRO14 season.

“He (Sean) is moving along on that,” said McFarland.