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Leinster v Ulster: Dan McFarland thrilled key players make Champions Cup quarter-final squad

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland
Ulster head coach Dan McFarland
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland is thrilled to have plenty of key players fit and ready to go for Saturday's Champions Cup quarter-final with Leinster (5.45pm kick-off, Aviva Stadium).

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The province had been sweating over the fitness of key men Iain Henderson, Marty Moore and Darren Cave but all three had been passed fit to play in the side's first game at this stage in five years.

"There's been a little bit of up and down in terms of prepping them but the medical and athletic performance staff have done a really good job in terms of getting these guys ready and ready to play," said McFarland. "It's great to have them available."

In a further boost, Irish international centre Luke Marshall has been named on the bench and is set for his first rugby in 10 months.

The Ballymena man required off-season surgery on his ACL after sustaining a serious injury in the final game of the 2017/18 campaign.

"It's great for Lukey," added McFarland. "Last time he played was against Ospreys - running across the pitch to make a try-saving tackle with three other Ulster players that was absolutely crucial at the time.

"It sums up who he is as a player, his willingness to give everything he has for the team. It's really good to see him back and ready to play.

"Nowadays the professional players, certainly the ones with experience...  Lukey's done a lot of training, he's up to the kind of speed that there will be in the game.

"He may not be used to the physical intensity and collisions and impacts that go on, but in terms of the speed of our training and the uncertainty of our training, he's done a lot of that. So he's ready to go."

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