Iain Henderson returns to Ulster XV for Ospreys clash

Date published: February 14 2019

There’s three matches in the PRO14 on Friday as Round 15 starts with Edinburgh, Munster and Ospreys hosting the Dragons, Kings and Ulster.

Edinburgh v Dragons

Scotland international Magnus Bradbury returns from injury to feature for the first time in four months as Edinburgh face the Dragons at Murrayfield in the PRO14.

The four-times capped back-row is one of eight internationals named in the starting XV as recent Scotland call-ups Darcy Graham, Chris Dean, Ben Toolis and Luke Crosbie are all released for the encounter.

Henry Pyrgos captains the side which also sees winger and top try-scorer Duhan van der Merwe return to action after missing the match against Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth last month.

Wing pairing Graham and Van der Merwe – who have scored 70 points between them so far this season – are joined in the back three by capped full-back Dougie Fife.

Recent Scotland call-up Dean is partnered in midfield by James Johnstone, who returns to outside centre after featuring on the wing against the Kings.

South African fly-half Jaco van der Walt once again links up with experienced scrum-half Pyrgos at half-back.

The inclusion of Ross Ford – who makes his 200th PRO14 appearance – is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged front-row as the hooker packs down alongside Pierre Schoeman and Italian international Pietro Ceccarelli.

Lock Toolis, who featured in Scotland’s opening Six Nations win over Italy two weeks ago, partners Fraser McKenzie in the second-row, while returning blindside flanker Bradbury is named in the back-row alongside Crosbie and Fijian international number eight Viliame Mata.

For the Dragons, centre Jarryd Sage and back-row James Benjamin are called into the starting line-up to face Edinburgh.

They make just two changes for the clash at Murrayfield as the team targets a first away league win of the season.

Benjamin comes in at number eight for the encounter, with Ollie Griffiths moving across the back-row to play in the seven jersey.

Sage is named at centre alongside Tyler Morgan as Dragons go into the game with six players away on international duty with Wales.

The only other change to the matchday squad is a call-up for Gavin Henson, who is named among the replacements.

Edinburgh: 15 Dougie Fife, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 David Cherry, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Ally Miller, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Juan Pablo Socino

Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jarryd Sage, 11 Will Talbot-Davies, 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 James Benjamin, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Harrison Keddie, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Richard Hibbard (c), 1 Brok Harris
Replacements: 16 Rhys Lawrence, 17 Rhys Fawcett, 18 Dan Suter, 19 Lewis Evans, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Rhodri Davies, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Zane Kirchner

Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Venue: Murrayfield
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White, Paul Haycock (Ireland)
Television match official: Neil Paterson (Scotland)

Munster v Kings

Munster head coach Johann van Graan has made seven changes to his side that defeated Dragons in their last outing three weeks ago.

Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Niall Scannell, John Ryan and Billy Holland all return from international duty to start the clash. Tyler Bleyendaal captains the side in his first start at fly-half this season with his three previous starts this campaign at inside centre.

Mike Haley starts at full-back with Conway and Darren Sweetnam named on the flanks.

Rory Scannell and Farrell start in the centres with Neil Cronin and Bleyendaal named in the half-backs.

Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell and Ryan pack down in the front-row with Jean Kleyn and Holland in the engine room.

Fineen Wycherley, Chris Cloete and Arno Botha start in the back-row to complete the side. Cloete makes his first appearance since sustaining a neck injury in December.

JJ Hanrahan has recovered from a hip injury sustained last month to take his place in the squad with Academy back-row forward Gavin Coombes also named among the replacements.

Meanwhile, exciting Southern Kings fly-half, Bader Pretorius, will make his first start for the men from Port Elizabeth in the competition.

The 21-year-old Pretorius made his debut for the Kings from the bench in the team’s 25-21 victory over Edinburgh last month, and will this week play in his third match after also being a substitute a fortnight ago against Cheetahs.

The experienced Berton Klaasen will be on Pretorius’ outside, as the centre returns to the starting XV to pair up with Fijian Meli Rokoua in the midfield.

In the pack, loose forward Stephan de Wit also makes a return to the starting XV in the place of the suspended CJ Velleman at openside flanker.

The rest of the starting XV remains the same as the side that faced the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in the narrow 36-40 defeat.

Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Darren Sweetnam, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal (c), 9 Neil Cronin, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Fineen Wycherley, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Jeremy Loughman
16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Darren O’Shea, 20 Gavin Coombes, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Dan Goggin

Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Meli Rokoua, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Stephen de Wit, 5 JC Astle (c), 4 Andries van Schalkwyk, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira
16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Tertius Kruger, 23 Ulrich Beyers

Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Venue: Irish Independent Park
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Matteo Liperini (Italy)
Television match official: Alan Falzone (Italy)

Ospreys v Ulster

Loosehead prop Jordan Lay will make his Ospreys debut after being named in the starting line-up to face Ulster at Brewery Field.

Lay has signed on a short-term loan from Bristol as cover with three of their looseheads out through injury or international call-ups.

The Samoan is joined in the front-row by Scott Baldwin and Tom Botha, while Lloyd Ashley and Bradley Davies make up the lock combination.

In the backline, Dan Evans is set to make his 100th appearance for the region and he lines up alongside Hanno Dirksen and Luke Morgan in the back three.

Finally, Sam Davies captains from fly-half and he is partnered by Tom Habberfield.

Meanwhile, Stuart McCloskey will make his 100th Ulster appearance in Friday’s PRO14 encounter.

The 26-year-old centre made his debut against Dragons in February 2014 and has been a regular in the side since then, as evidenced by his tally of 17 starts in the current campaign.

Elsewhere, the pack has received a boost with the return of Iain Henderson from injury and he will partner captain Alan O’Connor in the second-row.

Academy prop Eric O’Sullivan, who has played in 18 of Ulster’s 20 games so far this season, Rob Herring and Marty Moore complete the tight five. Clive Ross, starting for the first time this season, is joined in the back-row by Nick Timoney and Jordi Murphy. The latter has been released by the Ireland coaching team.

Scrum-half John Cooney is another to be discharged from international duty and he will partner Michel Lowry at half-back. It will be Lowry’s first start in the fly-half berth.

McCloskey will combine with Darren Cave in midfield and together they boast 319 Ulster caps. Angus Kernohan, Louis Ludik and Peter Nelson are named in the back three.

The forward replacements are John Andrew, Andy Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Sean Reidy, while the backline cover will be provided by Dave Shanahan, James Hume and Rob Lyttle.

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Sam Davies (c), 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 James King, 7 Sam Cross, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Jordan Lay
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Rowan Jenkins, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Will Griffiths, 20 Rob McCusker, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Luke Price, 23 Keelan Giles

Ulster: 15 Peter Nelson, 14 Angus Kernohan, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Michael Lowry, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Clive Ross, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Alan O’Connor (c), 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Eric O’Sullivan
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andy Warwick, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Dave Shanahan, 22 James Hume, 23 Rob Lyttle

Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Venue: Morganstone Brewery Field
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Dan Jones (Wales), Ben Breakspear (Wales)
Television match official: Tim Hayes (Wales)