The team’s were announced earlier today for the Ulster v Scarlets PRO12 clash at Ravenhill on Friday evening. Kick off 19:05. 

Ulster welcome back Charles Piutau, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson and Callum Black in the starting line up with Franco van der Merwe and Ian Henderson forming the basis of a strong subs bench. 

It’s starting to look more like the first choice starting line up, but there is still a ways to go. Back in July we stated what we thought our premier starting line up would be (click here to refresh your memory) so I thought it’d be something a bit different if we compared this one to our premier select side to see how far we are off our idea of near perfection! 😆

Position Select Actual Comments
Back Three Payne, Trimble, Piutau Piutau, Gilroy, Ludik 80% It’ll always be close but Trimble and Payne add that something extra. 
Centers McCloskey, Marshall McCloskey, Marshall 100% My first choice pick!
Half Backs Jackson, Pienaar Jackson, Pienaar 100% No real competition for either at present. 
Front Row Black, Best, Herbst Black, Herring, Ah You 70% Marginal drop with Herring, huge drop with Ah You.
Second Row vd Merwe, Tuohy  Browne, O’Connor 80% Pleasingly close, should be very competitive this season. 
Back Row Henderson, Henry, Coetzee Ross, Reidy, Diack 70% Actual is not bad just the select is that good! 

Doing the hard sums, I make it that we are sending out a team that is 81.3% of our optimum side.

Not too bad I hear you say, and it’s not, the only downside being that the areas where we least meet the first choice select is in the prime positions of front row and back row and this will certainly make the winning of this game more difficult.

However, this is not a confident Scarlets side, having lost to the workman like Munster and Edinburgh in their first two outings, but they do like coming to Ravenhill and have a good record against Ulster in all competitions. You could argue that this is exactly the sort of game they want to get their season back on track and they have plenty of talent in their ranks, albeit under-performing talent so far! Ulster need to be wary and cannot afford to take them for granted. 

On the plus side for Ulster, we are rapidly approaching the first European matches so there’s plenty, for those players who aren’t copper fastened in the starting line up, to play for; now is the time to shine. 

The FRU Predicts: I think this is going to be a close, scrappy game with Charles Piutau making the difference between the two teams (and Liam Williams to be sent of 😆 ). Ulster to win, but not by much! #SUFTUM

Charles Piutau 15 Aled Thomas
Craig Gilroy 14 Liam Williams
Stuart Olding 13 Jonathan Davies
Stuart McCloskey 12 Hadleigh Parks
Louis Ludik 11 Steff Evans
Paddy Jackson 10 Rhys Patchell
Ruan Pienaar 9 Gareth Davies
Callum Black 1 Wyn Jones
Rob Herring 2 Ken Owens
Rodney Ah You 3 Werner Kruger
Pete Browne 4 Jake Ball
Alan O’Connor 5 David Bulbring
Clive Ross 6 Lewis Rawlings
Sean Reidy 7 James Davies
Robbie Diack 8 John Barclay
John Andrew 16 Ryan Elias
Andrew Warwick 17 Luke Garrett
Ross Kane 18 Peter Edwards
Franco vd Merwe 19 Tadhg Beirne
Ian Henderson 20 Will Boyde
Angus Lloyd 21 Aled Davies
Luke Marshall 22 Scott Williams
Robert Lyttle 23 Steff Hughes