Thursday 22 February 2018

Henderson return boosts Kiss hopes of Glasgow lift

Iain Henderson is back in the Ulster team for tonight’s trip to Glasgow. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Iain Henderson is back in the Ulster team for tonight’s trip to Glasgow. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Jonathan Bradley

AS he welcomes Iain Henderson back into his team for tonight's trip to Glasgow (7.35pm kick-off), Les Kiss has called on his squad to deliver a play-off spot over the season's final weeks.

Ulster currently sit in the fourth and final place but are embroiled in a seven-team battle to play knockout rugby in May and, starting this evening, any slip-up could prove hugely detrimental to their cause.

"We as a group believe we can be at the business end of the season," said the Australian. "The motivation is already there.

"They want to make sure they really do themselves justice. There's an opportunity there for us and we have to be able to deliver, first and foremost, for this game. Everyone has to put their hand up and deliver."

Last season's champions have won four in a row since being beaten by Ulster last month and are boosted by the return of a host of Scottish stars from Six Nations duty. Kiss is expecting quite the challenge against Gregor Townsend's men.

"If you watch the way they approached their game against Leinster last weekend, they were very good at the breakdown - although not always legal," he said.

"They have a very good offloading game. They're not afraid of backing themselves, particularly on their home turf.


"I'd expect they'll try and challenge us with their width, as well as their offloading game. It's their home turf. Every team finds a bit of solace in their home turf."

With Henderson returning for the first time in almost four months after a serious hamstring injury, he is joined in the back-row by Chris Henry and Nick Williams.

Up front, with Rory Best still absent, Rob Herring starts at hooker and captains the side.

In the second-row, Alan O'Connor is fit again to join Franco van der Merwe as a starting lock while behind the pack, Paddy Jackson starts at out-half and wins his 100th cap for the province at the age of only 24.

He is partnered at half-back by Ruan Pienaar with Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall reuniting in the midfield.

With Jacob Stockdale given a break after featuring for the Irish U-20s over the last two weeks, Rory Scholes joins Craig Gilroy on the wing, while Stuart Olding is back in the 15 jersey.

Backline replacements are provided by Paul Marshall, Sam Windsor and Darren Cave.

Verdict: Ulster

Glasgow - S Hogg; T Seymour, M Bennett, A Dunbar, S Lamont; F Russell, H Pyrgos; G Reid, F Brown, S Puafisi, J Gray (capt), L Nakarawa, R Harley, C Fusaro, J Strauss. Reps: J Malcolm, J Yanuyanutawa, Z Fagerson, T Swinson, R Wilson, G Hart, D Weir, T Naiyaravoro.

Ulster - S Olding; C Gilroy, L Marshall, S McCloskey, R Scholes; P Jackson, R Pienaar; C Black, R Herring (C), R Lutton, A O'Connor, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, C Henry, N Williams. Reps: J Andrew, K McCall, A Warwick, R Diack, S Reidy, P Marshall, S Windsor, D Cave.

Glasgow v Ulster,

Live, BBC 2, 7.35

Irish Independent

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