McCloskey set to return for Ulster

Date published: April 25 2016

Ulster fans will be delighted to know that centre Stuart McCloskey is back to full fitness and in contention for a starting place in Saturday's crucial PRO12 clash with league leaders Leinster at the Kingspan Stadium.
McCloskey picked up a shoulder injury during Ulster's 18-10 victory over joint table-toppers Connacht at the Kingspan Stadium on April 1, but after three weeks of recuperation, the big centre is now raring to go again. 

"It was a sprain of the AC joint, which is a fairly common injury among rugby players, so I have just been rehabbing it since," he told Ulster's official website.

"I took a week's holiday after the Connacht game, then did two weeks of rehab and some conditioning, then I was able to re-join full training this week."

McCloskey's return to fitness will give Director of Rugby Les Kiss plenty to think about as he considers his midfield partnerships, an area where Ulster have no lack of strength in depth. 

"There's a lot of competition there now, with five recognised international centres battling for places, and the guys have shown plenty of versatility with Jared playing at full back and Stu (Olding) playing a bit at 10, so it definitely gives us good options," added McCloskey. 

"All the guys know what they have to do when they are called upon, so everyone is just fighting to get a place in the first 15. It's a good problem for Les to have."

Ulster go into Saturday's game knowing that two wins from the final two games will secure a top four spot and a place in the PRO12 semi-finals. 

"We don't have to worry about any bonus points," said McCloskey.

"If we can beat Leinster, then we will go to Ospreys the following week knowing exactly where we stand."

The challenge faced by Ulster on Saturday will be of no surprise to any of the players, as McCloskey says, "It is always a big game against Leinster, as both teams have been consistently challenging around the top four in recent years. 

"We beat them 26-10 at home last year, but lost 8-3 away in November, so hopefully we can make up for that loss this weekend."

Referring to the loss away to Leinster in the RDS earlier this season, McCloskey is expecting this game to be a different spectacle for the supporters.

"I think Saturday's game will probably be a bit more expansive than the game back in November," he said. 

"The weather wasn't great that night and both defences were on top so it resulted in a low scoring game. Hopefully this will be more exciting for the fans and we'll come out on top."