Ulster's John Afoa and Chris Henry return for Heineken Cup final

Ulster prop John Afoa
Ulster prop John Afoa will play against Leinster at Twickenham

Forwards John Afoa and Chris Henry are back in the Ulster team for the Heineken Cup final against Leinster.

Prop Afoa served a four-match ban for his quarter-final tackle on Munster's Felix Jones while back row Henry had been sidelined with an ankle injury.

Young fly-half Paddy Jackson keeps his place so the more experienced Ian Humphreys is again a replacement.

Henry missed the semi-final win over Edinburgh and last weekend's final Pro12 match away to Munster.

But he came through this week's training sessions and has been included for the eagerly-awaited all-Ireland showdown at Twickenham.

Coach Brian McLaughlin, taking charge of Ulster for the final time, described Henry's fitness as "fine".

"He has trained all week and we are happy with his progress. He is ready to go, 100% fit, and we are very happy about that," added McLaughlin.

Henry said Ulster's recent training camp in Portugal had been beneficial as he battled to be fit in time.

"Being able to live with the physios was great, they were treating me flat out," he revealed.

"There may have been a wee bit of tenderness on Monday but on Tuesday it was fantastic and I am raring to go."

The Ulster coach described Leinster's team selection "as I expected" with Brian O'Driscoll and Rob Kearney both passed fit and Joe Schmidt also handing starts to Fergus McFadden, Eoin Reddan and Kevin McLaughlin.

"It is great that both teams are at nearly full-strength, and it is a long time since that happened when we have faced each other," added McLaughlin.

"It should be a fantastic occasion and a great game.

"The boys are ready. We have had a great couple of weeks leading into it.

"We feel there is an opportunity waiting for us and it is important we show what we are capable of."

Hooker Rory Best added that Ulster "are in a good place" as they aim to emulate the province's 1999 triumph.

"We have never been to a Heineken Cup final before but there is a lot of big-game experience in the squad.

"We have come through the Munster and Edinburgh games, where we were underdogs for one and favourites for the other.

"We feel we are very prepared for this and we can't wait for the game now."

Ulster: S Terblanche, A Trimble, D Cave, P Wallace, C Gilroy, P Jackson, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, J Afoa, J Muller (cpt), D Tuohy, S Ferris, C Henry, P Wannenburg.

Replacements: N Brady, P McAllister, D Fitzpatrick, L Stevenson, W Faloon, P Marshall, I Humphreys, A D'Arcy.

Top Stories