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Henderson makes his return to strengthen McFarland's hand

Major boost: Iain Henderson is back after missing the Glasgow clash
Major boost: Iain Henderson is back after missing the Glasgow clash
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster have been boosted by the return of Iain Henderson for tonight's crucial PRO14 clash with Edinburgh in Murrayfield (7.35pm kick-off).

The British and Irish Lion lock will captain the side, restoring the second-row partnership with Kieran Treadwell last seen in the Champions Cup quarter-final loss to Leinster.

Henderson is one of three changes to the side that fell to Glasgow a week ago as Ulster look to secure the win that would seal their place in the PRO14 play-offs.

The northern province enter tonight's contest second in the table but are just two and three points ahead of Benetton and Edinburgh respectively.

With the Italians hosting an understrength Munster at the Stadio Monigo, Dan McFarland's men could end the night fourth and in line to once again require a play-off to secure Champions Cup qualification for next season with only one further round remaining. The other returnees are Robert Baloucoune and Nick Timoney, both of whom started against Leinster but were not seen against Glasgow.

With Michael Lowry struggling with a knock sustained in that game, Baloucoune comes straight in to start on the wing opposite Rob Lyttle with Jacob Stockdale switching to full-back.

It will be just the third time the Irish international has worn Ulster's 15 jersey and the first time since the festive inter-pro with Connacht in 2017.

Timoney takes the place of Sean Reidy in the back-row, the recent provincial centurion dropping to the bench. The rest of the team remains unchanged after Stuart McCloskey passed through the return to play protocols to retain the 12 jersey.

One player who will play no further part this season is Will Addison. The summer signing from Sale was in excellent form early on in the campaign but has not featured since January thanks to a back injury that eventually required surgery.

McFarland, though, does not think the injury has scuppered the versatile back's chances of making Ireland's World Cup squad.

"I would expect Will to still be in line to fight for a place at the World Cup," he said.

"It's very frustrating for him. Back injuries can be very difficult to manage and deal with but he's had the surgery.

"He feels as if he's in a good position and he's going to make progress."

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