Darren Cave will captain Ulster in Saturday’s Pro14 derby against Leinster to mark his retirement from the game.

Cave, 32, is retiring at the end of the season after 13 years at the club and will lead the team out at Kingspan Stadium for the last Conference B game.

Head coach Dan McFarland said it will be “a huge day” for the outside centre.

“It means a lot to Darren to represent this province, to have played for one club throughout his career,” he said. “He’s so proud to have done that.”

Cave has made 226 appearances for the province, three short of all-time record holder Andrew Trimble.

As well as earning 11 caps for Ireland, he was part of the Ireland Under-20 side that won the Grand Slam 12 years ago – when his current club boss was coaching their forwards.

“I’ve known Darren since 2007,” said McFarland. “There were a lot of players in that team who went on to have great careers and Darren is one of them.

“I’ve got a lot of time for him and one of the things I’ve noticed, he’s a smart fella. He doesn’t mind speaking his mind.

“He’s going to be successful. He’s confident and he’s got opinions.

Cave scored two tries in 11 games for Ireland between 2009 and 2015

“In terms of what he’s done with the squad this year: a lot of the charity work that’s done in the background, Darren has a leading hand in that.

“We’ve got plenty of people who can captain that team but Darren is a good leader of men. He’ll do a good job as the captain.

“I think that will add to the performance but there’s also the aspect that he’s playing at Kingspan when he’s retiring at the end of the year. It’s a great honour to do that.”

Ulster and Leinster are expected to rest many of their established regulars for what is essentially a dead rubber on Saturday, with both teams already guaranteed a place in the Pro14 play-offs.

Connacht will travel to Belfast for a quarter-final on 4 May but McFarland will demand a performance from his side against Leinster this weekend, even if there appears to be nothing at stake.

“Momentum is important definitely, but it will really test our squad,” said the head coach.

“That’s what [Leinster] do all the time, that’s how they run their squad. We’re not there yet but we want to get there, utilising your whole squad throughout the year.

“We’ve used 47 players in the Pro14 this year; that will probably go up over 50 this weekend. Clearly, you need that.”


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