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Bordeaux-Begles v Ulster: Stuart Olding relishing Euro battles after swift return from injury

By Jonathan Bradley

After all he has been through in the last three years, Stuart Olding admits that his most recent rehab was something of a breeze.

The centre, who has torn his ACL on two occasions during his short career, has been absent since the win over Glasgow Warriors three weeks ago with a groin problem, but is expected to ease Ulster's midfield crisis by lining out in the Champions Cup opener against Bordeaux-Begles on Sunday.

With Louis Ludik breaking a cheekbone and Darren Cave tearing his calf against Connacht last week, along with Stuart McCloskey's previously broken foot, for all the talk of a star-studded back-line, Les Kiss could have found himself searching for centres had it not been for the returns of both Olding and Luke Marshall.

"People said we had too many and now we've not enough," laughed Olding.

"It's a strong position for us but a few injuries are all it takes.

"We've so many high quality injuries at the minute but thankfully they're not all long-term. They're easy fixes and hopefully we'll have everyone back soon.

"I knew mine wasn't too bad but everyone thought it was my knee again, just the way I went down and went off.

"But it was just a pull in my groin. There was no pop or anything like that which in my experience is obviously a good thing.

"I had a scan and it came back all clear so it was just resting up for a few days before hitting it hard in training. Thankfully it's held up pretty well and I'm positive about it.

"I probably could have played (against Connacht) but just thought it'd be best to maybe sit out one more and then hopefully be in the mix if the week of training all goes well."

Such is the dearth of those with experience wearing 12 at this level, Olding is expected to be parachuted straight into the starting team when it is revealed at lunchtime today.

There may be no time to ease himself back in gently but Olding is looking forward to what he believes will be an entertaining challenge in Europe this year.

"It's a difficult pool, very difficult actually," he said.

"Clermont and Bordeaux are two big French sides and Exeter have been playing phenomenal rugby these last couple of years.

"It's teams that like to play rugby so we're all looking forward to a good one. It'll be free-flowing."

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