Jacob Stockdale: Ulster have real fears over winger’s fitness for PRO14 play-off game against Connacht

Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale
Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland admitted on Monday there were concerns around Jacob Stockdale’s fitness ahead of next week’s Guinness PRO14 play-off against Connacht in Belfast.

International winger Stockdale suffered a hamstring injury towards the end of the victory over Edinburgh almost two weeks ago.

Ulster’s medical team are monitoring the injury on a regular basis.

But asked if there were any fears he would not be available to face Connacht in the semi-final qualifier at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday week (May 4), McFarland’s straight and concerning answer was “yeah there are.”

He added: “As we said on the last injury report (last week) we are going to keep monitoring him week on week.

“But there are definitely fears for the Connacht game.”

Captain Rory Best will miss this Saturday’s visit of Leinster as the PRO14 regular league season comes to an end, but McFarland remains hopeful on the hooker playing a week later.

Looking ahead to the visit of defending PRO14 champions Leinster the Ulster coach admitted there would be a number of changes to the side that defeated Edinburgh.

Both sides have already secured their places in the PRO14 Final series and Leinster are also coming off the back of Sunday’s European Champions Cup semi-final win over Toulouse in Dublin and are expected to also name a changed side for the trip to Belfast.

McFarland said: “A lot of the guys who featured during the Six Nations period which we picked up 21 points in five games and put us in the position we are in will get the opportunity to play this weekend.”

He also revealed Darren Cave would captain the side.

“Darren will probably captain the side at the weekend. He is retiring at the end of this year, everyone will respect that fact and it is a huge day for him and on top of that it is an inter-pro game against Leinster at Kingspan Stadium.”