The teams are up for Ulster’s European Champions Cup clash against Clermont at Ravenhill on Saturday afternoon. Kick off 1:00pm, live on Sky Sports.

Ulster welcome back Rory Best and Paddy Jackson to the starting fold, for this must win match, and injuries to Franco Vd Merwe and Craig Gilroy see Robbie Diack and Louis Ludik starting in second row and on the wing respectively. Elsewhere the rest of the starting XV is unchanged from the team that started against Cardiff. 

Rob Herring and Jacob Stockdale are the only changes to the bench. 

Clermont currently sit at the top of the Top 14 and are the only team in this seasons Champions Cup to claim five points in each of the first two rounds of the Pool fixtures. However they have been a little off form of late losing to the lowly Bayonne during the Autumn Internationals and to Pau last weekend. the latter being a particular shock. 

Despite last weeks win against Cardiff I reckon that Ulster are still unsettled and have been since their second half capitulation against Bordeaux in the opening round of this competition. To be honest, they have produced little to convince me otherwise but they do have a habit of concentrating that little bit harder and going that little bit further in the European matches at home and with a 1:00 pm kick off it’s likely to be a fairly raucous  crowd behind them if they make the effort on the pitch. 

The teams last met in the Pool stages five years ago in Europe with Ulster coming away with an unconvincing 16 – 11 win on that occasion, after the crowd got under the French sides skin, and it’s going to need something like that on this occasion I reckon. Little things change seasons and a win against the French heavyweights could turn Ulster’s season around. 

Have we got the team to do it? Individually, yes, we do but they have not been playing well as a collective or with a great deal of belief. Maybe the return of a confident Best and Jackson after a successful series with Ireland may add what has been missing, if it doesn’t I suspect it’ll be a long afternoon at Ravenhill. 

The FRU Predicts: Something is still not right in the Ulster camp, though success in this game could lead to the changing of all that. However, outside of the French imploding, I can’t see where the win is going to come from so I predict that it’ll be Clermont that come out on top. (Don’t worry I predicted Ulster to lose to Cardiff last week!   😉 )

ULSTER   CLERMONT
Charles Piutau 15 Scott Spedding
Tommy Bowe 14 David Strettle
Luke Marshall 13 Remi Lamerat
Stuart McCloskey 12 Wesley Fofana
Louis Ludik 11 Nick Abendanon
Paddy Jackson 10 Camille Lopez
Ruan Pienaar 9 Morgan Parra
Kyle McCall 1 Raphael Chaume
Rory Best 2 Benjamin Kayser
Wiehahn Herbst 3 Davit Zirakashvili
Pete Browne 4 Flip Van Der Merwe
Robbie Diack 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina
Iain Henderson 6 Damien Chouly (capt)
Chris Henry 7 Alexandre Lapandry
Sean Reidy 8 Peceli Yato
     
Rob Herring 16 Yohan Beheregaray
Andrew Warwick 17 Etienne Falgoux
Rodney Ah You 18 Clément Ric
Kieran Treadwell 19 Sitaleki Timani
Clive Ross 20 Camille Gerondeau
Paul Marshall 21 Ludovic Radosavljevic
Darren Cave 22 Benson Stanley
Jacob Stockdale 23 Alivereti Raka

#SUFTUM