Ulster coach Mark Anscombe has named a 26 man squad ahead of this Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 game v Glasgow, his first competitive game in charge (kick off 7.05pm).
Paul Marshall, Darren Cave and Tom Court have all been included in the 26 man panel ahead of this weekend’s game at Ravenhill.
The trio will add experience to a youthful squad that has registered impressive pre-season wins against Bayonne, Leicester and Newcastle.
New signings Sean Doyle, Nick Williams and Michael Heaney will make their competitive debuts for the Province if selected.
Ulster Squad to play Glasgow Warriors, RaboDirect PRO12, Fri 31st Aug (7.05pm), Ravenhill
Forwards (15): Niall Annett, Adam Macklin, Callum Black, John Afoa, Lewis Stevenson, Neil McComb, Mike McComish, Johann Muller, Robbie Diack, Sean Doyle, Nick Williams, Rob Herring, Tom Court, Nigel Brady, Declan Fitzpatrick.
Backs (11): Peter Nelson, Jared Payne, Niall O’Connor, Michael Heaney, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Luke Marshall, Paul Marshall, Chris Farrell, Michael Allen, Darren Cave.
When looking at team selections at this time of year it’s not just a straight forward choice of picking the “best” players on paper. IRFU dictates have to be considered and some of those player who have only just been made available will take a little time to get up to full match fitness.
I expect to see Court, Cave and Marshall all start from the bench where they will be joined by Afoa to allow Fitzpatrick to get his weekly amount of game time.
With this in mind the starting props will be Black and Fitzpatrick with Court and Afoa to come on a predetermined times. Brady and Herring will be filling the hooker’s berth but I don’t think we can read anything into which one starts – what would you rather do as a hooker, start with Black and Fitzy or finish with Court and Afoa? My reckoning is that they’ll start with Brady and bring Herring on for the last 20.
Second row picks itself with all three available likely to be involved. Muller and Stevenson to start with McComb on the bench is the obvious breakdown but I suspect there was a bit more deliberation about the back row, and openside in particular. Diack and Williams have picked themselves at 6 and 8 through their pre-season performances and it looks as though Aussie Sean Doyle has seen off stiff competition from Ali Birch. You would expect McComish to bench here but Anscombe may go for a 4 – 4 split on the bench, with McComb covering back row and second row, to accommodate Cave and O’Connor as backs replacements.
Back line should be Heaney, Jackson, Allen, Luke Marshall, Farrell, Gilroy and Payne and, as I said earlier, I expect the replacements to be a 4 – 4 split consisting off Court, Herring, Afoa, McComb, Paul Marshall, O’Connor, Cave and Nelson.
FRUXXIII: Payne, Gilroy, Farrell, Marshall L, Allen, Jackson, Heaney, Williams, Doyle, Diack, Stevenson, Muller, Fitzpatrick, Brady, Black. Replacements: Court, Herring, Afoa, McComb, Marshall P, O’Connor, Cave, Nelson.