Leinster v Ulster: Stockdale ruled out by knee injury as Sexton fit to start

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Stockdale
Stockdale limped off late in Ulster’s win over Munster last weekend
Venue: RDS Arena, Dublin Date: Friday, 8 January Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Ulster MW, BBC Radio Foyle and the BBC Sport website

Jacob Stockdale will miss Ulster’s crucial Pro14 meeting against Leinster on Friday with a knee injury.

Michael Lowry replaces the Ireland international at full-back in the only change to Ulster’s backline for the trip to Dublin.

Leinster skipper Johnny Sexton has passed return to play protocols and will lead his side from fly-half.

The reigning champions have picked a strong side with Jordan Larmour set for his first appearance since October.

Sexton is one of just two players, alongside Dave Kearney, to retain his place following last Saturday’s shock defeat by Connacht, which handed Ulster the ascendancy in Conference A.

The Ireland skipper was forced off during the first half of the contest having taken a knock to head and subsequently failed a Head Injury Assessment.

Australian lock Scott Fardy is the only non-Ireland international in Leinster’s starting XV, as Leo Cullen names an entirely different pack to the one that came up short against Connacht.

Larmour, who underwent shoulder surgery last autumn, is restored to the right wing with Hugo Keenan coming in at full-back.

Ross Byrne is selected at outside centre to partner Robbie Henshaw in midfield, while Jamison Gibson-Park is preferred to Luke McGrath at scrum half.

No Stockdale but Coetzee returns for Ulster

With 10 wins from 10, a victory over their provincial rivals on Friday would put Ulster in a very strong position going into the final five games of the regular season.

While the absence of Stockdale is a blow, the northern province will be buoyed by the returning Marcell Coetzee who will make his first start since news of his move to South African side the Bulls was revealed.

Coetzee will be joined by Jordi Murphy and Greg Jones in the back row, with Sam Carter captaining the side from lock.

Andrew Warwick is preferred to Eric O’Sullivan at loose-head prop, while Ethan McIlroy retains his place on the left wing after his man of the match showing against Munster.

Leinster: Keenan; Larmour, R Byrne, Henshaw, Kearney; Sexton (capt), Gibson-Park; Healy, Cronin, Porter; Fardy, Ryan; Ruddock, Van der Flier, Doris.

Replacements: Tracy, E Byrne, Bent, Molony, Conan, L McGrath, H Byrne, J O’Brien.

Ulster: Lowry; Faddes, Hume, McCloskey, McIlroy; Burns, Cooney; Warwick, Herring, Moore, O’Connor, Carter (capt.); Jones, Murphy, Coetzee.

Replacements: Andrew, O’Sullivan, O’Toole, Treadwell, Timoney, Shanahan, Madigan, Moxham.



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