Guinness PRO12: Ulster confirm flanker Chris Henry’s return

Head coach Neil Doak welcomes back the Ireland flanker after his recovery from heart surgery in November

Chris Henry will return to action after being named on the bench for Ulster Rugby.

Ulster head coach Neil Doak confirmed the news ahead of the Guinness PRO12 clash with Cardiff Blues at the Kingspan Stadium tonight.

Wearing the Ulster jersey means a great deal to Chris, and I know with what he has been through over the past four months that tonight will be extra special for him.

Neil Doak on Chris Henry’s return from heart surgery

Henry, 30, was due to play in Ireland’s win over South Africa, but complained of head mains on the morning of the match.

Despite initially believing the problem was onset by a viral illness, the Ireland medical team believed he had a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain.

Further tests revealed that Henry, who was a key part of Ireland’s 2014 RBS 6 Nations-winning team had suffered a mini-stroke and the 13-times capped openside flanker had heart surgery to repair a defect in his heart wall.

His involvement in training was increase over the last two months, and he was cleared to return to play following a consultation with his surgeon in Dublin earlier this week.

“I am absolutely delighted that Chris will be involved in this evening’s match and his recovery gives everyone at Ulster Rugby a massive boost,” Doak said.

“He is a very popular member of the squad and he has worked extremely hard since his surgery to get back to full fitness.

“While he was cleared to play earlier in the week, we wanted to wait until today to confirm his involvement, so that he could be completely focused on his return to play.

“Wearing the Ulster jersey means a great deal to Chris, and I know with what he has been through over the past four months that tonight will be extra special for him.

“I also know that the crowd will give him a huge reception if and when he takes to he pitch.

“For the coaches and players of Ulster Rugby, it is just great to have him back.”

Ulster Rugby: Louis Ludik; Craig Gilroy, Darren Cave (Captain), Stuart Olding, Michael Allen, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Callum Black, Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst, Dan Tuohy, Franco Van der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Clive Ross, Nick Williams.

Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Bronson Ross, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry; Paul Marshall, Ian Humphreys, Rory Scholes.

Cardiff Blues: Rhys Patchell; Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Gavin Evans, Lucas Amorosino; Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams; Sam Hobbs, Matthew Rees (captain), dam Jones, Jarrad Hoeata, Lou Reed, Josh Turnbull, Ellis Jenkins, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Taufa’ao Filise, Scott Andrews, Macauley Cook, Manoa Vosawai; Tavis Knoyle, Gareth Davies, Tom Isaacs.

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