A pre-season hamstring injury and Ireland commitments have restricted Rory Best to two appearances for Ulster this season

Ireland captain Rory Best, Sean Reidy and Stuart McCloskey will play for Ulster in Friday’s game at the Dragons.

Fellow internationals Iain Henderson and Jacob Stockdale, who scored two tries against Argentina last weekend, have not been released for club duty.

Chris Henry returns from a collarbone injury sustained against Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth earlier this month.

“It’s important to have Chris back in the fold for his experience,” said Ulster’s backs coach Dwayne Peel.

A first league win of 2017 for Best?

Best has not been involved in a winning Ulster team in a Pro12 or Pro14 game since Connacht at home in December 2016.

A hamstring injury followed by international commitments have restricted the 35-year-old hooker to just two appearances for Ulster this season.

At this stage last year he had played five times for the province.

“We’re hoping that Rory will be involved and having Stu back is a big thing,” Peel said.

“He has played particularly well this year and he played well against Fiji for Ireland. He has been good for us this year so good to have him back in the fold.”

Chris Henry faces off with Connacht skipper John Muldoon during Ulster’s Pro14 home win earlier this season

The Dragons have only won four times this season but have a good home record at Rodney Parade, a ground Ulster have traditionally struggled to dig out results.

Peel, the former Scarlets and Wales scrum-half, believes the Dragons are a team on the rise.

“There is a bit of buzz around them because of Wales Rugby Union takeover and they signed [Ross] Moriarty yesterday, and he is a British and Irish Lion.

“They’ve been pretty strong at home and we’re expecting a big challenge.

“They concentrate a lot on their home games and want to take as many scalps as they come.”

Ulster need a late Andrew Trimble try to secure an unconvincing win over Benetton Treviso last Friday.

Peel defended the performance.

“There’s areas we can improve in terms of execution and our kicking game but at end of the day we got the win we wanted and bled some young guys in the pack.

“It shows we have character to grind out those results and we are working hard ahead of the massive games coming up.”


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