Stockdale and Henderson back as club rugby returns

The NatWest 6 Nations might be over, but the domestic season is really heating up as the business end approaches.

The NatWest 6 Nations might be over, but the domestic season is really heating up as the business end approaches.

And a number of star names who caught the eye over the last two months in the 2018 Championship are straight back into action this weekend for their clubs across the Aviva Premiership, Guinness PRO14 and Top 14.

Click here for the final 2018 NatWest 6 Nations table   IRELAND   Fresh from being crowned the 2018 Player of the Championship, Jacob Stockdale comes straight back onto the wing for Ulster this weekend in their crunch clash with Cardiff Blues.

He is joined by fellow Grand Slammer Iain Henderson – who will line out in the back row – as the men from Belfast chase a play-off spot.

Leinster meanwhile welcome back Joey Carbery at full-back while Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Andrew Porter will all be in the pack along with Jordi Murphy.

Connacht have opted to rest Bundee Aki, Kieran Marmion and Ultan Dillane but Quinn Roux is handed a start. Munster meanwhile have given their internationals the week off after their Grand Slam efforts.   ENGLAND   Owen Farrell and George Kruis miss out for Saracens in their clash with Harlequins at the Olympic Stadium but there are returns for Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Liam Williams and Richard Wigglesworth to the starting XV.

Mako Vunipola will take a place on the bench against a Quins side that includes Danny Care, Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown.

Elswhere, Bath welcome Exeter Chiefs on Friday night with an intriguing tussle at No.13 where Jonathan Joseph and Henry Slade go head to head.

The Chiefs also welcome back Don Armand and Sam Simmonds.

Elsewhere, George Ford, Jonny May and Dan Cole are all straight back into the starting XV for Leicester Tigers clash with Wasps who include Joe Launchbury and Elliot Daly.

And Ben Te’o makes his return from injury for Worcester Warriors as they take on Sale Sharks.    WALES   George North comes straight into the Northampton Saints starting XV, as does Taulupe Faletau at No.8 for Bath as the Welsh players look to carry momentum from their second-placed finish in the Championship back into their club from.

Tomas Francis also starts for the Chiefs against Faletau and Bath while in the Guinness PRO14 Cory Hill and Elliot Dee return for the Dragons.

Alun Wyn Jones will captain the Ospreys fresh from his man of the match outing against France while Dan Biggar and Justin Tipuric also return.

Centre Scott Williams is named as Scarlets captain for the Guinness PRO14 clash with Munster as the defending champions also include Steff Evans, Rhys Patchell, Aaron Shingler and Samson Lee.

SCOTLAND   Scotland international Darryl Marfo will make his long-awaited return from injury as Edinburgh travel to face Connacht.

Scotland star Blair Kinghorn returns to the starting XV following his scoring exploits in the NatWest 6 Nations.

Hooker George Turner returns to the Glasgow Warriors side after injuring his knee in January’s victory over Exeter Chiefs in the European Rugby Champions Cup while Tim Swinson returns to the second row.

Turner is joined in the front-row by loose-head Oli Kebble and Zander Fagerson is at tight-head, after coming off the bench for Scotland as they came from behind to defeat Italy in their final NatWest 6 Nations game last weekend.

Sam Johnson and Nick Grigg make up the midfield while Henry Pyrgos and Adam Hastings will pull the strings as half backs.

Jamie Bhatti and Peter Horne’s inclusion on the bench makes it a total of five players who are in the Warriors 23 who were involved for Scotland against Italy.

ITALY   Zebre take on Glasgow Warriors this weekend with scrum-half Guglielmo Palazzani returning from Italy duty to captain his side.

Edoardo Padovani comes in at full back while Carlo Canna is handed the No.10 jersey.

Benetton meanwhile, looking to bounce back from their defeat to Cardiff Blues last time out, have also brought back some of their big names.

Jayden Hayward comes in at full-back, Federico Ruzza is in the second row while Marco Barbini, Braam Steyn and Robert Barbieri make up the back row.   FRANCE   Jacques Brunel will be very excited to see Wesley Fofana make his anticipated first start back for Clermont this weekend.

Fofana looks set to go head to head with Toulon and now France talisman Mathieu Bastareaud in the centres in their pivotal Top 14 meetings.

Damien Penaud also returned from injury for Clermont last weekend to boost Brunel’s backline options.

There is an intriguing scrum-half battle as well were Maxime Machenaud – top points scorer in the whole of the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations – faces off against Baptiste Couilloud as Racing 92 take on Lyon.

Elsewhere Jefferson Poirot, Marco Tauleigne and Baptiste Serin are all set to come into the Bordeaux starting XV for their clash with La Rochelle.