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Rory Best set for quarter final farewell as Stockdale fitness fight goes on


Rory Best
Rory Best
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Rory Best is in line for one final farewell to Kingspan Stadium but Jacob Stockdale is unlikely to feature in Saturday's Guinness PRO14 quarter-final with Connacht (5.35pm kick-off).

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The retiring skipper has not played since the Champions Cup defeat to Leinster in the Aviva Stadium last month but took part in training yesterday when star winger Stockdale was conspicuous by his absence.

While delighted to have his talismanic captain back in the fold, head coach Dan McFarland says there is too much on the line for Best, and indeed Darren Cave, to focus what could potentially could be their last Ulster games.

"It's not really talked about at all," he said. "It's not something even they want to talk about because there's too much at stake for them as professional rugby players to make sure they get their own job right. That might sound strange.

"For a lot of people the emotion of being involved in a match where hopefully Rory and Darren are getting a send-off at Kingspan, one they wholeheartedly deserve, that's a very important thing and would be a fabulous thing to be involved in.

"But for them, they've got a lot to focus on. Let's say it is Rory's last game at the Kingspan, he'll want to play well, he'll want to put everything out there, but for the squad we've just got a job to focus on."

Sean Reidy is Ulster's only other fitness doubt having sustained a concussion in an accidental collision with team-mate Alan O'Connor against Leinster on Saturday.

With the winners on Saturday taking on Glasgow in the semis two weeks later, the province have already ruled out Will Addison, Louis Ludik, Marty Moore, Craig Gilroy and James Hume for the remainder of the season.

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