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Stuart Olding admits that a return to Ireland could be on cards one day

 

By John Fallon and Michael Sadlier

Controversial ex-Ulster centre Stuart Olding hasn't ruled out a possible return to Ireland.

IRFU performance director David Nucifora said in June that he couldn't say for certain that Olding or Paddy Jackson would not play for Ireland again.

"Who knows what will happen in the future? But I've signed here for two years and I plan on putting my full effort in here and who knows," said Olding.

Olding said he has received a warm welcome in Brive and hopes to play in their opening ProD2 clash on Saturday. That would be his first competitive match since an ankle injury against Ospreys in April 2017.

He was suspended, along with Jackson, in July 2017 after they were charged with rape. They were acquitted in March and had their Ulster contracts revoked in April following an IRFU and Ulster review.

Meanwhile, Jacob Stockdale may now not be seen in an Ulster shirt until mid-October after the province confirmed that their star winger has been sidelined with a hamstring injury.

The 22-year-old picked up a grade two hamstring strain last week during training, which rules the Six Nations try-scoring record holder out for between six to eight weeks.

Though Stockdale was unlikely to have had much game time for Ulster ahead of mid-October's European Champions Cup opener - due to Ireland's summer tour to Australia and this season's heavy workload of international games ahead of next autumn's World Cup - it is still a blow for the province.

Indeed, the Ireland Grand Slam winner could end up in a race against time to be fit for Ulster's first European outing, on October 12-14, which would not only be damaging for the province but also a worry for national coach Joe Schmidt ahead of a four-Test autumn schedule.

Stockdale, who scored seven tries in Ireland's Six Nations clean sweep and was named the tournament's Player of the Championship, will also badly need games under his belt before going to national camp in November.

Belfast Telegraph

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