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Pro14

Another Leinster Player Doubtful for Pro 14 Final

Leinster could be without another player for their Pro 14 final on Saturday

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Sean O’Brien has emerged as a doubt for Leinster’s Pro 14 final against Glasgow Warriors in Celtic Park on Saturday.

The flanker sustained a hip injury during the province’s 20-10 Champions Cup final loss against Saracens and sat out training yesterday as he continues to recover.

O’Brien will be desperate to prove his fitness and pull on the blue jersey one last time before his summer move to London Irish.

The good news for Leinster is the timing of Josh van der Flier’s return from injury which has ensured that they are covered in the back-row either way. O’Brien will probably be battling for a place on the bench after van der Flier’s incredible performance against Munster in the semi-final over the weekend.

Only yesterday Leinster confirmed that lock Devin Toner will miss the final due to a knee injury he picked up during the match with Munster. It is hoped now that the injury will keep him out for four to six weeks meaning that he would be available for Ireland’s World Cup preparations.

However, it is expected that Scott Fardy will come in to replace Toner in the starting XV this weekend.

Elsewhere, Rob Kearney suffered a head injury during the final with Saracens, but he has gone through the return to play protocols and has retaken his place on the field.

While it is also expected that captain Johnny Sexton will also return to the starting XV having played well after coming off the bench against Munster.

Pro14

Halaholo returns for Cardiff Blues season opener

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(Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Willis Halaholo returns to the Cardiff Blues starting line-up for the Guinness PRO14 curtain raiser against Zebre at Stadio Lanfranchi on Friday (KO 6.00pm GMT).

The centre has been sidelined since suffering a significant knee injury in a Challenge Cup clash against Leicester Tigers last November.

Halaholo is reunited in midfield with Rey Lee-Lo, in a backline that includes six internationals.

Homegrown duo Jarrod Evans and Lloyd Williams combine at half back, while Matthew Morgan and Hallam Amos line-up in the back three alongside Josh Adams, who has been in scintillating form since joining the region, with seven tries in eight outings.

Lock Cory Hill captains the side for the first time since returning to his home region from Dragons over the summer.

He partners Seb Davies in the second row, while academy graduates Corey Domachowski and Liam Belcher are included in the front row with Dmitri Arhip.

Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham, who both impressed in the victory over Ospreys on the final day of the 2019/20 campaign, are rewarded with starting spots, as the experienced Josh Turnbull is handed the number eight jersey.
John Mulvihill insists he’s picked the side based on form and merit but is expecting a tough task in Parma.

“I’m hopeful that we can take the form that we had against Ospreys into game one and certainly the selection of the team rewards the boys that played well that day,” said the head coach.

““We need to pick on form if we want to be consistent as a group. The coaches need to show consistency in picking players that put their hands up for selection.

“We’re all excited to get out there and to kick off the new season. We gained a lot from the two derbies we played in August, and the boys have been working hard on the training ground, so we want to see that come into fruition on Friday.

“We all know how tough it can be to visit Italy, and you need to travel there with the correct game-plan and mindset.

“Zebre are a team that can cause teams problems on their day, but we’re fully confident in our group. Preparations have been good, the boys have been sharp and focused and we’re relishing the challenge ahead. We want to build early momentum and we have an opportunity to do that in Parma.

“There will be a small home crowd out there, which is fantastic and we’re really looking forward to playing in front of some spectators after everything that’s happened over the last few months. It should be lively and entertaining affair.”

Five academy products are included on the bench, including lock Ben Murphy and Welsh internationals Rhys Carré and Dillon Lewis.

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Josh Adams, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Hallam Amos; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Corey Domachowski, Liam Belcher, Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Cory Hill (capt.), Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Botham, Josh Turnbull
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhys Carré, Dillon Lewis, Ben Murphy, Olly Robinson, Lewis Jones, Jason Tovey, Garyn Smith

The following players were not considered for selection due to injury:
Ellis Jenkins (Knee)
Tomos Williams (Shoulder)
Rhys Gill (Bicep)
Jason Harries (Knee)
Owen Lane (Shoulder)
Mason Grady (Ankle)
Keiron Assiratti (Ankle)
Will Boyde (Calf)
Josh Navidi (Concussion)

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Pro14

2 potential debutants for Ulster v Benetton

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster match-day squad has been named for Friday’s Guinness PRO14 opener versus Benetton Rugby at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 8.15pm).

In the back three, Jacob Stockdale has been selected to start at full-back and will be joined by Rob Lyttle and Craig Gilroy on the wings. Stewart Moore will make his first senior start for Ulster, pairing with James Hume in midfield. Michael Lowry has been named to start at fly-half, alongside John Cooney at scrum-half.

Jack McGrath and Marty Moore will pack down either side of Rob Herring in the front row, and Sam Carter will partner captain Iain Henderson at lock. Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy and Marcell Coetzee have been selected as the starting loose forwards.

Back-row and Academy Player of the Year, David McCann, could make his senior Ulster debut if called upon from the bench, while prop Gareth Milasinovich is also set to earn his first cap following his return from a knee injury sustained shortly after joining the club last summer. They will be joined on the bench by fellow forwards Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan and David O’Connor. Alby Mathewson, Bill Johnston and Louis Ludik will provide the backline cover.

Ulster team to play Benetton Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 1, Friday 2 October 2020, at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 8.15pm, live on Premier Sports):

(15-9): Jacob Stockdale, Craig Gilroy, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Michael Lowry, John Cooney.

(1-8): Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements (16-23): Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, David O’Connor, David McCann, Alby Mathewson, Bill Johnston, Louis Ludik.

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Pro14

Ulster reveal large injury list with Irish star out for ‘months’

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Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ulster Rugby released their latest squad update this afternoon.

Press Release begins:

The Ulster Rugby Medical Performance Team has issued a squad update ahead of Friday’s Guinness PRO14 Round 1 fixture against Benetton at Kingspan Stadium. 

Kyle McCall sustained a concussion in the recent Ulster ‘A’ Inter-pro fixture against Leinster and will follow Return to Play protocols. Ethan McIlroy (ankle) was also injured during this match and, as a result, is unavailable for selection this week.

Tom Stewart (hamstring) was injured in training on Monday and is currently unavailable for selection.

Stuart McCloskey (elbow) and Billy Burns (calf) sustained injuries in the Heineken Champions Cup Quarter-Final game against Toulouse. Both will be unavailable for selection this week. 

Tom O’Toole, who suffered an ankle injury in the PRO14 Final, will be unavailable for a period of several weeks.

Will Addison has suffered a setback whilst rehabilitating his back injury, and he has recently undergone surgery. He will be unavailable for selection for several months. 

The above players join Andrew Warwick (hip), Luke Marshall (hip), Angus Curtis (knee), and Robert Baloucoune (hamstring) on the current injured list.

Squad updates in association with The Ulster Independent Clinic.”

Ends.

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