Ulster Squad for Aironi.
Ulster Rugby named the Ulster Squad for the Aironi match this afternoon.
Ulster travel to play Magners League newcomers Aironi in Italy this weekend and Coach Brian McLaughlin has named his squad…
Aironi opened their Magners League account last weekend with an away trip to Munster but the Italian side were no pushover, and forced Munster to work hard for their 33-17 win.When asked what Ulster were expecting, Coach Brian McLaughlin commented;
“This is Aironi’s first home game in the Magners League so basically we’re expecting World War Three. They will be very agressive and physical, the played exceptionally well against Munster last weekend.”
McLaughlin highlighted outhalf Ludovic Mercier and former Italian international captain, second row Marco Bortolami as key danger men
“They have a good pack that is very well directed by Mercier. They have signed very well, key for them is Bortolami in the lineout.”
The Ulster Squad named for the match does not include Rory Best or Stephen Ferris. Rory picked up some soft tissue irritation to his neck in Ulster’s match last Friday against the Ospreys but is rested along with Stephen as part of the IRFU’s player management programme. South African BJ Botha returned to Belfast following the Tri Nations campaign earlier this week, he will commence training again with the squad tomorrow and consequently was not considered for selection.
Jamie Smith is included having recovered from an eye injury sustained in the friendly against Bath while backrow Chris Henry, who toured with Ireland this summer is also included for the first time.
Following Friday’s opener against the Ospreys, McLaughlin is keen for his side to follow that performance up;
“We had a great performance on Friday against the Ospreys, lots of pride and passion but we have to build on that and go to Italy to get something”
The Ulster starting XV and replacements will be named on Friday.
Forwards: Tom Court, Paddy McAllister, Bryan Young, Declan Fitzpatrick, Adam Macklin, Neil McComb, Nigel Brady, Andi Kyriacou, Johann Muller, Tim Barker, Chris Henry, Ryan Caldwell, Willie Faloon, TJ Anderson, Robbie Diack, Pedrie Wannenburg
Backs: Adam D’Arcy, David McIlwaine, Nevin Spence, Tommy Seymour, Jonny Shiels, Darren Cave, Ian Whitten, Paddy Wallace, Ian Humphreys, Niall O’Connor, Ian Porter, Paul Marshall, Jamie Smith
With a 29 man squad named Ulster leave themselves with plenty of options, even with taking account of the absence of Best and Ferris, so let’s see how I think selection will go!
Up front I think they’ll start with Young, Kyriacou and Court. Young is more than likely a little bit cross after last weekend’s outing so he has something to prove and Kyriacou and Brady have both got a sniff after Rory’s disappointing performance in the line-outs. In this instance I think they’ll go with Andi K as Ulster look to up the tempo of the game.
Second row will more than likely be Muller with Caldwell with the latter needing a big game to get back in the reckoning for later in the season and the back row should read Wannenburg, Faloon and Diack, giving a nice balance.
At half back I reckon they’ll stick with Marshall and O’Connor. O’Connor is definitely playing well and he offers a more predictable presence in the middle of the park, something that is vital for a young and inexperienced back three. Flair will come from Paddy Wallace and a re-invigorated Cave who seems to be enjoying his rugby again this season and I see the Management sticking with Seymour, McIlwaine and D’Arcy despite the return of Smith – frankly, they all deserve another run out.
As more players return these selections are getting more difficult, which is a good thing, and selecting the bench gets harder by the game. At least we know Brady will be in the squad and more than likely he’ll be accompanied by Fitzpatrick and McAllister. Barker should travel along with Henry to complete the forwards and even so early in the season Anderson and McComb must be beginning to wonder what they are going to have to do to get a game!
Porter and Smith should make up two of the backs with Smith probably pencilled in for a half if things go according to plan, but the big conundrum is Humphreys or Whitten? I think they’ll go with Whitten as my gut feeling is that Humphreys is being held back until there is a bit more experience round him, experience that will be better able to respond to his peerless unpredictability.
The FRU 23: (15-9) D’Arcy, Seymour, Cave, Wallace, McIlwaine, O’Connor, Marshall. (1-8) Young, Kyriacou, Court, Muller, Caldwell, Wannenburg, Faloon, Diack. (16-23) Brady, Fitzpatrick, McAllister, Barker, Henry, Porter, Whitten Smith.
Agree? Disagree? Leave your comment below.