Ulster Rugby have released the team and replacements for this Friday’s match against Munster at Ravenhill, kick off 7.05pm.
With Andrew Trimble and Paddy Wallace both in camp with Ireland ahead of the start of the Autumn International Series, the Ulster backline shows two changes of personnel and one positional switch from that which was defeated by Edinburgh at Murrayfield last weekend.
Nevin Spence comes in at inside centre with Ian Whitten moving to the outside centre position and Ian Humphreys comes in at outhalf.
Up front Ulster are without the services of internationals Tom Court, Rory Best and Stephen Ferris and the forward pack shows five changes from last week.
Nigel Brady replaces Best at hooker while Bryan Young is recalled to the tight-head side as BJ Botha has aggravated the wrist injury which had ruled him out of Ulster’s matches earlier this month against Glasgow and Aironi.
Tim Barker is preferred over Dan Tuohy as captain Johann Muller’s partner in the second row. The rotation of back row players continues with Wannenburg named on the blindside flank, Willie Faloon at openside while Robbie Diack retains his position at No.8.
ULSTER (15-9) A D’Arcy; M McCrea, I Whitten, N Spence, D McIlwaine; I Humphreys, R Pienaar (1-8) P McAllister, N Brady, B Young, J Muller (Captain), T Barker, P Wannenburg, W Faloon, R Diack. Replacements (16-23) A Kyriacou, J Cronin, A Whitten, D Tuohy, C Henry, P Marshall, N O’Connor, L Marshall
Delighted to finally see the back row that everyone has been wanting actually starting. This three ball carriers lark is only a fad and really it’s an unsustainable tactic for Ulster given our poor level of ball handling and of course the poor weather! Faloon is just the man to force mistakes from others and he’ll be right on hand to scoop up the ball when they do.
In fact the whole team looks better ballanced, even considering the unexpected withdrawal of BJ and I must admit that I am surprised that McLaughs has continued with iHumph giving the relative inexperience of the backs. However seeing young Spence in the centre does give a degree of confidence and solidity as he is a young man with his head screwed on the right way. I’d rather see McIlwaine at full back than wing but if D’Arcy can actually find a pass at the end of his runs I’ll be happy enough. (Actually if he even looks for a pass at the end of his runs I’d be happy!)
There’s just something about it that says ,”Tidy little team” I just hope that they live up to my, now inflated, expectations. A lot will depend on how the SA contingent get up for this one but I’m sure they have been made well aware how important it is to get one over on any Turnip side at any opportunity. I expect them to respond accordingly.
Ulster to win by 12. No bonus point!