Henderson returns to lead Ulster for visit of Northampton Saints

Ulster captain, Iain Henderson makes his return from injury to lead the Ulster men in their first home game of the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup against Northampton Saints on Friday evening (8pm, Kingspan Stadium).

Tickets for Friday’s game are selling fast. Several sections of the stadium are now sold out, with only limited availability remaining in the other sections.


Henderson is one of three changes to the side that defeated Clermont at Stade Marcel-Michelin last Saturday, and he will start in the second row alongside Alan O’Connor. In the front row, Marty Moore returns to pack down at tighthead, with Rob Herring at hooker and Andrew Warwick at loosehead. Last Saturday’s back row of Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney and Duane Vermeulen has been retained.

In the back three, Mike Lowry and Ethan McIlroy retain their starting berths at full-back and left wing respectively, with Craig Gilroy coming in to start on the right wing. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume will again form the midfield partnership, while the half-back pairing of Billy Burns and last week’s Heineken Star of the Match, John Cooney, is also retained.

The coaching team has again opted for a 6-2 split on the bench. John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Sam Carter and Greg Jones provide the forward cover, and Nathan Doak and Stewart Moore are the back line options.

Ulster team to play Northampton Saints, Heineken Champions Cup Round 2, Friday 17 December at Kingspan Stadium, kick-off 8pm, live on BT Sport:

(15-9) Mike Lowry, Craig Gilroy, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney;

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Sam Carter, Greg Jones, Nathan Doak, Stewart Moore.


Leanne is the editor in chief of BELFAST.CO.UK.