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Pro14

Injured Stars Return for Both Leinster and Munster Ahead of Semi-Final

Leinster and Munster have confirmed that a few key men will return to action this weekend and one is a massive surprise for Leinster

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(Photo By Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster and Munster have announced timely returns from injury for some key men ahead of their Pro 14 semi-final in the RDS on Saturday.

For the men in blue it looks as though scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park will be available along with the surprise return of back-rower Josh van der Flier.

Gibson-Park missed the final stages of the Champions Cup due to a hamstring injury but appears to have shaken that off to be available for Leo Cullen’s side as they prepare to defend their domestic title.

Van der Flier on the other hand, underwent a groin operation during the Six Nations and had been expected to miss the remainder of the season, however, after a remarkable recovery he could be set to line-out on Saturday.

Both will have to get through a week’s training and if they do will be up for selection.

In other good news for the reigning champions, there seems to be no new injuries to worry about following their bruising battle with Saracens over the weekend. Joe Tomane is the only player set to miss out with a hamstring injury of his own that he picked up during training last week.

For the visitors there could be a trio of comebacks with Joey Carbery, Keith Earls and Rhys Marshell all in contention for a place in the 23 for the weekend.

All will be monitored during training this week much like their Leinster counterparts and if they can prove their fitness would be a massive boost as Munster look to overcome their biggest rivals.

The returns only add to what is set to be a cracker of a game as both go in search of a place in the final where the victor will meet either Glasgow or Ulster, who face-off on Friday.

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Pro14

2020 PRO14 Final Destination Confirmed

Next season’s PRO14 final will take place in a stadium it has never been before but there is one notable question mark surrounding the announcement

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(photo by Peter Fitzpatrick/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The Cardiff City Stadium has been announced as the destination for the 2020 Guinness PRO14 final, in what is a first for the Welsh capital.

The game will take place on the 20th of June next year and Wales international Sam Warburton is delighted it will take place in his home-place.

“Rugby has always been a sport at the heart of Wales and having another world-class rugby event in our capital city is very exciting. I have seen a couple of matches in Cardiff City Stadium and the atmosphere can be electric with the right crowd – it’s going to be a great final whichever of the teams make it. Being a Cardiff boy myself, I could be biased, but it really is a great city with a great community. As the crow flies, the Cardiff City Stadium is under a mile from the city centre, so it makes a great location for fans wanting to make a day or a weekend of the event,” he said.

Although the announcement comes as good news for the club and local fans, the wider public have noted that the stadium is smaller than previous ones to have hosted the showpiece.

In fact, there has been record-breaking attendances over consecutive years since 2016 with this season’s final in Glasgow topping the lot with 47,128 people heading to Celtic Park to watch Leinster retain their crown.

However, PRO14 CEO Martin Anayi has confirmed that the decision to head to the 33,280-capacity stadium next season is to hopefully see a sell-out crowd unlike in the past number of years.

“Choosing Cardiff City Stadium as the location for next year’s final allows us to aim for a sell-out event after four successive years of setting new attendance records. Bringing the final to Wales is another move in making the decider about supporters of rugby, not just fans of the teams involved, and we know from experience that Welsh supporters are the most vocal. Cardiff City Stadium also brings us to a football venue for the second year in a row after the tremendous success of our most recent final in Glasgow’s Celtic Park,” he said.

Whatever the thoughts are Cardiff is the place to be next June, the question is what two teams will be battling it out when the time comes?

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Pro14

Ulster Rugby Lad meets… Ross Kane

Ross Kane speaks to Peter Lockhart

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ross Kane is a card-carrying member of the beefy brethren known in rugby circles as the front row club.

He has become an important player for Ulster, deputising for Marty Moore and becoming an important part of the ‘new generation’ at Ulster.

Here, he chats to Peter Lockhart from Ulster Rugby Lad about his propping destiny, his rugby hero and puppy problems.

Who or what made you passionate about rugby?

My passion for rugby really grew when I joined Methody in 1st year, watching all the older guys and friends of mine make it through and play professionally.

Who was the player you most admired growing up?

It’s hard to look much further than Rory Best for the most admired player growing up as he was achieving what every young player coming through Ulster wanted to achieve. Finally making my debut and getting to play alongside him was a very proud moment for me.

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What made you want to play as a prop?

Many people will tell you that you don’t choose to be a prop, being a prop chooses you. Being a bit bigger in school always had me in the front row and I never managed to escape!

What would you be doing if you weren’t playing professional rugby?

If I wasn’t playing rugby, I’d hope to be working in the construction industry as I’m in the middle of finishing my engineering degree.

What advice would you give to any young aspiring front row players?

Advice I would give to young front rowers would be to soak up as much information as possible. Small details will put you ahead of other players.

How do you get into the right mindset before a game? Do you have any pre-match routines or rituals?

I don’t have any pre match rituals, as long I know I have prepared well I know I’ll be in the right mindset for the game.

What are your expectations for Ulster in the next few years?

My expectations for Ulster over the next few years are to be consistently putting ourselves in a position to compete at the top level.

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Is there a failure or apparent failure that set you up for a later success?

I think personally not getting selected for the academy after my U20 season really made me realise that I needed to change my mindset and approach to rugby and thankfully 2 years later I was selected for a summer trial for the academy.

What hobbies/obsessions do you explore in your free time?

I’ve recently just got 2 puppies with my girlfriend so most of my free time will be used trying to teach them to not go to the toilet in the house.

Thanks Ross!

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Pro14

Ulster Rugby announce new Club Captain.

Captain for the 2019/20 season.

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ulster Rugby this morning announced who will succeed Rory Best as the Captain of Ulster Rugby for the 2019/20 season.

Iain Henderson is the chosen man for the job. The Irish & British Lion will return to captain Ulster following probable selection for Ireland’s Rugby World Cup campaign.

The 27-year-old, who is currently in Ireland’s training squad ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019, has represented his home Province on 105 occasions.

Henderson started his rugby journey at Academy RFC, before continuing his development at Belfast Royal Academy.

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The versatile forward represented Ulster and Ireland at various age-grade levels on route to making his senior provincial debut in April 2012, against Connacht.

Henderson has since become a key figure for Ulster and Ireland, winning 44 caps for the latter. He played in four of Ireland’s games during the 6 Nations Grand Slam success of 2018, while he also featured in 2014 and 2015 Championship wins.

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