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Stockdale misses out through injury as McFarland makes six changes to Ulster side for crucial Leinster duel

 

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Jacob Stockdale

Jacob Stockdale

�INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Jacob Stockdale

Ireland full-back Jacob Stockdale has failed a late fitness test and will miss Ulster's trip to face Leinster at the RDS Arena on Friday night (7.35pm).

The 24-year-old limped off injured in last week's win over Munster and has subsequently been ruled out of the crucial Guinness PRO14 meeting in Dublin.

Ulster currently lead Leinster by 10 points in Conference A, although their rivals have two games in hand, and a win for Dan McFarland's side would put them in command for a place in the final.

As a result, the head coach has named a strong a team for the journey down the A1, featuring six changes to the team that defeated Munster at Kingspan Stadium last week.

However, there are some interesting selection calls, with Ireland loosehead prop Eric O'Sullivan named on the bench behind Andrew Warwick, while in-form flanker Nick Timoney is also only included among the replacements.

Similarly, Leinster have also named as strong a team as possible, bringing back 11 Ireland internationals, while fly-half Jonathan Sexton has been passed fit to start after failing an HIA in last week's shock defeat to Connacht.

Michael Lowry is reintroduced at full-back in place of the injured Stockdale, with Matt Faddes and increasingly impressive Academy prospect Ethan McIlroy named on the wing, while Stuart McCloskey and James Hume are retained in the centre, as are John Cooney and Billy Burns in the half-back slots.

Up front, Warwick comes into the front row on the loosehead side alongside Ireland hooker Rob Herring and tighthead prop Marty Moore, while Alan O'Connor rotates into the second row alongside captain Sam Carter.

Bulls-bound Marcell Coetzee is named at No.8 after being introduced from the bench in last week's 15-10 win over Munster, while Greg Jones and Jordi Murphy step in to fill the other two back row jerseys.

On the bench, sub-Academy prospect Ben Moxham continues his excellent recent run by being named among the replacements, with former Leinster duo David Shanahan and Ian Madigan the other backs included.

John Andrew, O'Sullivan and Tom O'Toole cover the front row, with Kieran Treadwell and Timoney called upon to provide impact late on in the loose forwards.

Meanwhile, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has responded to last week's first loss in 27 games by making wholesale changes, with only Dave Kearney and Sexton retaining their places in the starting team.

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Winger Jordan Larmour starts after recovering from a long-term injury, while fly-half Ross Byrne will fill in at inside centre due to the province's ongoing injury worries there.

Cullen is able to call upon the majority of the Ireland starting pack for the RDS clash, too, with only hooker Sean Cronin, Australian second row Scott Fardy and blindside flanker Rhys Ruddock not in the Ireland squad for the recent Autumn Nations Cup.

ULSTER

15. Michael Lowry; 14. Matt Faddes, 13. James Hume, 12. Stuart McCloskey, 11. Ethan McIlroy; 10. Billy Burns, 9. John Cooney; 1. Andrew Warwick, 2. Rob Herring, 3. Marty Moore; 4. Alan O'Connor, 5. Sam Carter (captain); 6. Greg Jones, 7. Jordi Murphy, 8. Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements: 16. John Andrew, 17. Eric O'Sullivan, 18. Tom O'Toole, 19. Kieran Treadwell, 20. Nick Timoney, 21. David Shanahan, 22. Ian Madigan, 23. Ben Moxham.

LEINSTER

15. Hugo Keenan; 14. Jordan Larmour, 13. Ross Byrne, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. Dave Kearney; 10. Johnny Sexton (captain), 9. Jamison Gibson-Park; 1. Cian Healy, 2. Sean Cronin, 3. Andrew Porter; 4. Scott Fardy, 5. James Ryan; 6. Rhys Ruddock, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Caelan Doris.

Replacements: 16. James Tracy, 17. Ed Byrne, 18. Michael Bent, 19. Ross Molony, 20. Jack Conan, 21. Luke McGrath, 22. Harry Byrne, 23. Jimmy O'Brien.

Referee: Andy Brace (IRFU)


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