Belfast Telegraph

Cave in line to equal appearance record

Numbers game: Darren Cave could earn his 229th Ulster cap
Numbers game: Darren Cave could earn his 229th Ulster cap
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster's Darren Cave will make a record-equalling 229th appearance for the province tonight against Glasgow in the Guinness PRO14 semi-finals, providing he is used from the bench.

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The veteran centre, who also has 11 Ireland caps, will retire at the end of the season but will draw level with his old friend Andrew Trimble should he see the artificial turf this evening.

As expected, Dan McFarland's men were handed a huge boost when the team was confirmed yesterday as both Jacob Stockdale and Louis Ludik have been declared fit to play.

Ireland star Stockdale hasn't played since mid-April thanks to a hamstring complaint but is straight back into the full-back jersey he vacated thanks to injury.

That means a start for Ludik on the wing, the versatile South African having originally thought he was out for the season after suffering a knee injury against Southern Kings back in March.

Elsewhere, McFarland has gone for continuity with Robert Baloucoune joining Ludik and Stockdale in the back-three and the midfield and half-back pairings of Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall, and John Cooney and Billy Burns, both maintained. With the two backline changes, Mike Lowry is alongside Cave on the bench with Dave Shanahan again providing scrum-half cover.

In what could be his final game for Ulster, Rory Best captains the side from hooker and is joined in the front-row by Eric O'Sullivan and, in the continued absence of Marty Moore, Ross Kane.

As it has been for the previous knockout games, Iain Henderson and Kieran Treadwell get the nod in the engine room with the back-row comprised of Nick Timoney, Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee. Timoney will be hitting a milestone of his own, a 50th Ulster cap.

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