Saturday 20 January 2018

Ulster boost as Henderson gets green light to return

Iain Henderson returns to the field for Ulster this weekend. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Iain Henderson returns to the field for Ulster this weekend. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Jonathan Bradley

Iain Henderson will make his long-awaited return to Ulster colours when the province welcome the Dragons on Friday night (7.35 kick-off).

The 25-year-old, who last played in the final midweek game of the Lions' summer tour to New Zealand, has been cleared to make his comeback off the bench against the Newport outfit as Ulster look for a fourth win of the new season.

While fellow international Rory Best will be sidelined for up to six weeks with a hamstring tear, the final member of Ulster's Lions trio, Jared Payne, is also expected to make his comeback against Dragons.

One man who may not figure on Friday, however, is Marcell Coetzee as he continues to nurse a bang to his surgically-repaired knee.

Excelled

Having been limited to only four outings in his debut season with Ulster, the Springbok excelled in the opening-round win over the Cheetahs but has not been seen since.

"It's the knee so we're just making sure it's all in a good place and go through the right processes," director of rugby Les Kiss explained yesterday.

"He's got fluid in it so it's just working through that and making sure it's clear on all that.

"We're just looking after it and it may be a case that this knee flares up every now and then.

"We're just keeping an eye on it at this stage. Hopefully, if not this week, he'll definitely return next week."

If it seems likely that Coetzee, and indeed his fellow Springbok back-rower Jean Deysel, are to miss out, Kiss was more optimistic on the prognosis for Charles Piutau.

The All Black back-three player has missed the last two games with a hamstring complaint but is primed to return, possibly in place of Louis Ludik who will not play this week after requiring an HIA in last Friday's win over league champion Scarlets.

Irish Independent

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