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Big names return for Ulster v Cardiff clash

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster match-day squad to face Cardiff Rugby at Kingspan Stadium on Friday evening has been named (7.35pm kick-off).

Jordi Murphy returns to the starting XV, having returned from injury to make his first appearance this season. He is named at blindside flanker alongside Marcus Rea at openside, with Nick Timoney returning from Ireland camp to take the Number Eight jersey. Iain Henderson has been released from international duties to captain the side and will partner Alan O’Connor in the second row. Andrew Warwick and Marty Moore have been selected at loosehead and tighthead prop, with John Andrew retaining his starting berth at hooker.

Stewart Moore will line out at full-back, with Robert Baloucoune and Ben Moxham taking up the right and left-wing positions. James Hume returns from Six Nations duties to partner Stuart McCloskey in the centre. Nathan Doak and Billy Burns will once again start at scrum-half and out-half respectively.

Tom Stewart and John Cooney have both recovered from injury to be named among the replacements. Jack McGrath, Gareth Milasinovich, Sam Carter and Duane Vermeulen will provide the other forward options; Ian Madigan and Aaron Sexton are the back line reinforcements.

Ulster team to play Cardiff Rugby, United Rugby Championship Round 13, Friday 4 March at Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm kick-off, live on BBC Northern Ireland, Premier Sports, andRTÉ 2:

(15-9) Stewart Moore Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ben Moxham, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak;

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Jordi Murphy, Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney.

Replacements: Tom Stewart, Jack McGrath, Gareth Milasinovich, Sam Carter, Duane Vermeulen, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Aaron Sexton.

Josh Navidi returns from injury to start in Cardiff’s United Rugby Championship clash against Ulster at Kingspan Stadium on Friday (KO 7.35pm).

Dai Young’s Blue and Blacks return to competitive action for the first time in five weeks, having claimed a dramatic win over defending champions Leinster last time out.

Academy product Navidi, who was selected for the British and Irish Lions last summer, has been sidelined since October after suffering a shoulder injury in the opening minutes of the league encounter with Vodacom Bulls.

Navidi is part of an all-international homegrown back row, with James Botham handed the number eight jersey. Ellis Jenkins is named on the blindside, having been released from the Wales squad for this weekend’s action.

Matthew Screech also returns from the sidelines to partner Josh Turnbull in the boiler room. Club captain, Turnbull, will draw level with Ian Keatley in second place in the league’s all-time top appearance makers.

Loosehead prop Brad Thyer is set for his first Cardiff appearance of the season, forming the front row alongside Kirby Myhill and Dmitri Arhip.

Lloyd Williams and Jarrod Evans link up at half back with Rey Lee-Lo and Willis Halaholo reunited in midfield.

A back three of Aled Summerhill, Owen Lane and Hallam Amos complete the starting line-up.

Looking ahead to the clash, director of rugby Young said: “When you have players of equal quality, you can rotate a little bit, while not losing the performance you’re looking for.

“We want to make sure that we’re looking after the players so that when we go to South Africa we’ve got enough bodies.

“The league table isn’t pretty reading when you look at it, because we’re in twelfth place.

“But when you start scraping through the ceiling, you see that we’ve played the least amount of games.

“But the message to the players is that it’s in our hands. We’ve got the ability to go out to play and perform and if we pick up points along the way there’s no reason why we can’t climb the table rapidly.”

Young added: “Going to Belfast is a massive challenge, but it’s a great place to play rugby, and that’s the first thing.

“It’s a cauldron of rugby and the supporters there are fantastic. For me, it’s a venue you want to play at.

“People talk about daunting places to play, and yes it’s a tough place to go but it’s a fantastic atmosphere, whether it’s with you or against you. So yes it is somewhere you want to go to play.

“Hopefully a part of our upward trend is going to places and getting results. But Ulster’s form this season has shown how tough it’s going to be for us.”

Keiron Assiratti comes onto the bench to cover as hooker, while Jamie Hill could make his first appearance of the campaign.

James Ratti and Rhys Carré are also named amongst the replacements, joining Jenkins and Halaholo in being released from the Wales squad for the trip to Belfast.

Cardiff currently sit in 12th place in the table, but have up to five matches in-hand, with Friday’s encounter set to kick off an intense run-in for Young’s men.

Cardiff Rugby: Hallam Amos; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Aled Summerhill; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Brad Thyer, Kirby Myhill, Dmitri Arhip, Josh Turnbull (capt.), Matthew Screech, Ellis Jenkins, Josh Navidi, James Botham

Replacements: Keiron Assiratti, Rhys Carré, Will Davies-King, Teddy Williams, James Ratti, Jamie Hill, Ben Thomas, Matthew Morgan


URC

Additional terracing confirmed for October interpros

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Following huge demand for tickets, Connacht Rugby can confirm that temporary terracing will be installed for both BKT United Rugby Championship interpros against Munster and Leinster next month.

The game against Munster on Friday 7th October is set to be a momentous occasion as the club plays its first fixture on the new state-of-the-art, artificial surface.

Just seven days later neighbours Leinster visit the West of Ireland, in what will be another crucial game in the context of the overall season.

The terraces will be located at the Bohermore and College Road ends of the ground, bringing the capacity of The Sportsground up to 8,129.

Tickets for both games are on sale now at connachtrugby.ie/tickets, and supporters are urged to act quickly to avoid disappointment.

We are also now offering our fans a special October Interpros bundle. This bundle will guarantee your place in The Sportsground for these can’t-miss October games.

Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby


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URC

Academy Update | September 2022

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We spoke to Greencore Munster Rugby Academy Manager Ian Costello last week for the first update of the new season from the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy.

New recruits Fionn Gibbons, Darragh McSweeney, Evan O’Connell, Jack Oliver, Ruadhan Quinn and Kieran Ryan have all hit the ground running and seen game-time at various levels over the past number of weeks.

19-year-old second year Academy member and UCC clubman Edwin Edogbo made his senior debut against Dragons on Sunday becoming the first Cobh Pirates player to line out for Munster in the professional era. Edwin missed all of last year due to an achilles injury but impressed in pre-season and was rewarded with a debut in Wales.

Hear the latest from Costello below.

Munster A v Connacht A last week…

“It was a good run-out. They had played a game the week before and our game against Ulster had been cancelled so they were a bit more clinical.

“We dominated possession and territory but they were more accurate, we were a little bit rusty at key times but it was a good exercise overall.”

New recruits…

“Kieran Ryan and Darragh McSweeney, the two props, are getting on really well. Ruadhan Quinn obviously hit the ground running with 78 minutes against Gloucester in pre-season, which was great for him to get a senior run-out. Evan O’Connell was released back to the Munster U19s and he played the Interpros with them and they won two out of three.

“Jack Oliver played his first game for Munster in a long time against Connacht A and he had a club run-out with Garryowen the week before. It was his first time playing in seven months so it was great to have him back as well. Fionn Gibbons had his first run-out since joining us against Connacht too.”

Academy players Tony Butler, Edwin Edogbo, Cian Hurley, Daniel Okeke, Conor Phillips getting game-time in pre-season games…

“It’s fantastic. And to have so many players away with Emerging Ireland now, it gives our lads the chance to push for a squad spot in the URC for the next three games.

“We’ll be stretched a bit at senior level with the 10 guys selected for Emerging Ireland so we’d be hopeful there will be a couple of Academy players in the mix over the next couple of weeks and anyone who isn’t in the mix will be playing with their club.

“On the injury front, Patrick Campbell (toe) was injured with the Ireland U20s over the summer and he’s a couple of weeks away.

“Daniel Okeke tweaked his hamstring in the A game last weekend so hopefully he won’t be out for too long.”

AIL season kicking off this weekend…

“The players will all go back to their clubs this week and hopefully the majority of the lads will be playing in AIL round one, if they’re not involved in the URC.

“We have been drip-feeding the lads back with their clubs so a number of guys have been training with their clubs over the last few Tuesdays so we try to keep them connected to their club as much as possible.”

Summer training camps for underage sides…

“We had a residential camp in UL over the summer. We put a lot of time, effort and resources into a three-week residential camp. We brought 15 under-20 players to train with the U19s. The U20s don’t have an Interprovincial tournament so they’re essentially the guys we’re looking at to move onto the next level. Guys like Daniel Hurley trained with them, he’s back from a cruciate injury, Shay McCarthy who had gone away with the Ireland U20s…these are the kind of guys we’re looking at long-term as well.

“We brought that group of 15 to train with 30 U19s so that was class. Off the back of those training camps, the Munster U18s won the Interpros, the U19s won two out of three so there’s a lot of good players emerging out of that and it was good to validate it with winning an Interpro as well.”

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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URC

Leo Cullen issues injury update

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Leo Cullen has issued an injury update ahead of Friday’s BKT United Rugby Championship game in the Kingspan Stadium against Ulster Rugby (KO: 7.35pm – live on BBC NI, RTÉ, Premier Sports and URC TV).

There was positive news for Joe McCarthy (ankle) and Jordan Larmour (knee) who both came through the game against Benneton Rugby with no issues after their return from injury.

McCarthy will however be unavailable for the game on Friday as he has joined up with the rest of the Emerging Ireland squad that departed yesterday for Bloemfontein ahead of their participation in the Toyota Challenge.

Jamison Gibson-Park missed the game on Friday in the RDS Arena through illness but is expected to train as normal this week.

Cullen also gave an update on Ciarán Frawley who was withdrawn from the game against Benetton Rugby early in the second half with a shoulder injury. As a result he will now miss the Emerging Ireland tour and will instead be assessed by the Leinster Rugby medical team.

Will Connors will also be further assessed this week for a back injury as he was withdrawn in the second half as a precaution.

Another player to be further assessed this week is James Ryan who was a late withdrawal from the match day squad on Friday with a minor hamstring injury sustained in the captain’s run on Thursday.

There was some positive news for Liam Turner who is nearing the completion of his rehabilitation for a toe injury and hopes to start integrating back into team training this week.

Finally, Cullen confirmed that Caelan Doris will miss the game against Ulster Rugby at the weekend. Doris was withdrawn for a Head Injury Assessment in the first half against Benetton Rugby and will now enter the Graduated Return to Play Protocols.

Cullen had no update on Hugo Keenan (abdominal & knee injury), James Lowe (calf), James Tracy (neck), Charlie Ryan (knee) and Tommy O’Brien (knee).

Images & Content from Leinster Rugby


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