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Pro14

Connacht Update Ahead of Leinster Clash

Connacht have provided an injury update ahead of their PRO14 game with Leinster this weekend and head coach Andy Friend has also had his say on Paddy McAllister’s citing dismissal

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(Photo By John Dickson/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Connacht have been boosted on the injury front but still have less than 30 players to pick from for their game with Leinster at the RDS this Saturday according to head coach Andy Friend.

With Irish duo Bundee Aki and Jack Carty currently on a two-week mandatory lay-off, as well as three players undergoing the return to play protocols for HIA’s and 12 further squad members injured Friend has admitted that they haven’t even been able to put 30 men through training this week. 

“We had 28 today but that was with four academy boys and two other fellas who we have got here training. We are skinny. It’s not ideal but when we travelled to South Africa we travelled with 26 players. Whenever we are under 30 I just say ‘imagine we’re in South Africa’, because we had two wins over there against the Kings and Cheetahs,” he said while speaking to the42. 

However, there is a possibility that prop Paddy McAllister may be involved after his citing for a dangerous tackle during last weekend’s loss to Ulster was dismissed. 

He is currently under return to play procedure for a head injury, but if he comes through he should be able to play and speaking on the decision to dismiss his citing Friend believes it is not only good for Connacht but for the sport. 

“I think it’s brilliant news. I think it’s great for Paddy and for Connacht, but I think it’s actually good for rugby. I totally get that we need to protect the player, but we play a collision sport where accidents do happen. You can’t have two big guys running into each other, trying to hit each other with their heads. There is no future in that. But sometimes you get collisions when that just happens,” he added. 

He went on to defend McAllister and claimed that the player himself was upset over the possibility of people thinking that he had deliberately fouled Marcell Coetzee. 

 “I know Paddy was really remorseful for what happened and I know he spoke to Marcell post-game. He was disappointed that people were thinking that it was a deliberate act because that’s not Paddy McAllister. He’s a hell of a man, a gentleman in his own right. He is not a foul player. He was gutted that people were thinking that was deliberate. But there was a lot of work behind the scenes put in on his behalf,” he finished up. 

Friend will be hoping that McAllister will be available for selection come Saturday as his team take on the current PRO14 Conference A leaders, who have been in rampant form so far this season and can produce results even with a weakened team as they proved last weekend away to Munster.

Pro14

Ulster to welcome 1,000 fans for Scarlets clash

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ulster Rugby last night announced that 1,000 supporters will be welcomed to the Kingspan Stadium this weekend. Statement from Ulster Rugby below:

The doors of Kingspan Stadium will open to 1,000 supporters this weekend when Ulster Rugby welcome Scarlets in Round 7 of the Guinness PRO14 (Sunday 22 November, kick-off 7.35pm).

The Ulster Men have played behind closed doors since the opening game of the season against Benetton Rugby when the club successfully trialled the safe return of spectators following extensive consultation with the IRFU, Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Executive.

All 500 pairs of tickets will be made available to #TogetherUlster Members only via an online ballot process. Members who applied for tickets to the Benetton match but missed out due to limited availability will receive priority in the ballot.

Sunday night’s match will feature a mix of seating and terracing in operation across all four stands and the East Terrace. Tickets are again priced at £20 each, allocated in groups of two with two-metre physical distancing factored in.

The online ballot will be open for 24 hours from 1pm on Tuesday 17 November on the Ulster Rugby Ticket Account Manager, and account holders can apply for one pair of tickets per every Adult #TogetherUlster Membership held. All successful applicants will be notified on Wednesday evening once the ballot has closed and tickets have been allocated. Members will then have until 1pm on Thursday 19 November to confirm their ticket purchase and process payment.

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Pro14

Bad news on the injury front for Munster back-rower

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster medical department have issued the latest player update with Liam Coombes, John Hodnett and Alex McHenry all ruled out due to respective injuries.

The young trio sustained knocks in different training sessions and will not be available for this weekend’s clash.

Alex McHenry underwent surgery for a thumb injury and will not be available for the coming weeks, while Liam Coombes has sustained a minor hamstring injury.

Unfortunately, it is a longer-term outlook for John Hodnett who sustained an achilles tendon injury.  The Academy back row will undergo surgery early next week before commencing his rehabilitation programme.

A fourth player is already self-isolating after returning a positive test result from Monday’s PCR testing.  The player remains well, and no other players have been identified as close contacts.

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Pro14

Rea to win 50th cap v Cardiff

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Matty Rea is set to make his 50th Ulster appearance in the Guinness PRO14 Round 4 clash against Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade on Monday (kick-off 6pm).

The 27-year-old Ballymena man made his Ulster debut against the Toyota Cheetahs in September 2017, and has already shown some excellent form this year when collecting the Player of the Match award in the season opener versus Benetton.

Rea will start at blindside flanker, with Jordi Murphy being retained at openside and Nick Timoney coming in to start at number eight. Adam McBurney will make his first start this season at hooker and is joined in the front row by Eric O’Sullivan – who scored his first Ulster try last week – and Marty Moore. Alan O’Connor retains his starting berth in the second row, and will be partnered with Kieran Treadwell, who is also making his first start this season.

Billy Burns will make his return from injury to captain the side at fly-half, alongside John Cooney – who has been released from the Ireland Six Nations squad – at scrum-half.

Burns is one of four changes to the back line, with Stuart McCloskey also being released from international duties to start alongside Stewart Moore in midfield. Michael Lowry comes in to start at full-back, and he will be joined on the wings by Louis Ludik and the returning Craig Gilroy.

Luke Marshall is set to make his return from injury to make his first appearance this season as he is included among the replacements. Alby Mathewson and Academy back three prospect Ethan McIlroy will cover the backline along with Marshall. John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Ross Kane, Sam Carter, and Sean Reidy provide the forward options on the bench.

Ulster team to play Cardiff Blues, Guinness PRO14 Round 4, Monday 2 November 2020, at Rodney Parade (kick-off 6pm, live on Premier Sports):  

Issued by Ulster Rugby

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