Ulster have named a youthful team that will take the pitch against Gloucester in Chris Henry’s testimonial game on Saturday evening.

New signings, Marty Moore, Billy Burns and Will Addison are included among 18 replacements while Alex Thompson starts in the second row.

We didn’t see much of Schalk van der Merwe last season due to injury but he starts at loosehead prop with John Andrew at hooker and Tom O’Toole at tighthead prop. Alan O’Connor captains the side from the engine room alongside the aforementioned Thompson. Chris Henry starts his testimonial match on the openside flank with FRU player of the year nominee, Nick Timoney, at 8 and Marcus Rea on the blindside.

Starting his tenth season at the province, Chris Henry is the first Ulster player receive a testimonial match. Amassing 183 appearances in an Ulster jersey since his debut against Harlequins in 2009, Henry established himself as a stalwart at Ulster and was a key face in the province’s 2012 Heineken Cup run.

Jonny Stewart starts at scrum half with the talented Michael Lowry at outhalf. Darren Cave moves to inside centre and partners academy prospect, Stewart Moore at 13. There’s a start for Angus Kernohan on the left wing who featured for Ireland U20 during the 2018 Six Nations while a more familiar face on the right wing in Craig Gilroy. Peter Nelson returns to the fullback position.

Gloucester haven’t had ideal preparation for this match, with the arrest and subsequent charging of Danny Cipriani but are expected to name a 30-man squad for the match. Saturday will be the first time that David Humphreys and Jonny Bell return to Ulster in a professional capacity since moving to Kingsholm in 2014. Paddy McAllister could also make a return to Kingspan after his departure in the same year. 

As with every friendly match, the result isn’t make or break and it’s virtually impossible to gauge how the season will go off the base of it. Ulster have nine academy and sub-academy players in the match-day panel and it’s important to get them involved, particularly with Ulster placing more of an emphasis on youth this season due to a trimmed squad.

The FRU predicts: a decent first half with both sides throwing the ball about that descends into a disjointed second half. Ulster to win by a score.

Ulster   Gloucester
Peter Nelson 15 Tom Hudson
Craig Gilroy 14 Charlie Sharples
Stewart Moore 13 Jack Reeves
Darren Cave 12 Mark Atkinson
Angus Kernohan 11 Ollie Thorley
Michael Lowry 10 Owen Williams
Jonny Stewart 9 Ben Vellacot
Schalk vd Merwe 1 Alex Seville
John Andrew 2 Henry Walker
Tom O’Toole 3 Ciaran Knight
Alan O’Connor (c) 4 Tom Savage (c)
Alex Thompson 5 Gerbrandt Grober
Marcus Rea 6 Freddie Clark
Chris Henry 7 Jake Polledri
Nick Timoney 8 Will Safe
Adam McBurney   Franco Marais
Kyle McCall   Val Rapava Ruskin
Eric O’Sullivan   Fraser Balmain
Marty Moore   Mariano Galarza
Ross Kane   Ruan Ackermann
Kieran Treadwell   Callum Braley
Jack Regan   Lloyd Evans
Caleb Montgomery   Jason Woodward
Clive Ross   Todd Gleave
Sean Reidy   Ed Slater
Greg Jones   Lewis Ludlow
David Shanahan   Ben Morgan
Billy Burns   Billy Twelvetrees
Angus Curtis   Henry Trinder
James Hume   Matt Banahan
Aaron Sexton   Henry Purdy
Jack Owens    
Will Addison    

#SUFTUM