Dan McFarland has named his side to take on Leicester Tigers in the opening Heineken Champions Cup match tomorrow evening.
Michael Lowry will make his first start at full back while Will Addison and Craig Gilroy return to the starting line-up.
Ross Kane replaces Tom O’Toole while Rory Best and Andrew Warwick keep their places in the front row. Alan O’Connor and Iain Henderson are the lock pairing. Marcell Coetzee starts at 6 with Nick Timoney named as the 8 and Jordi Murphy at 7.
John Cooney and Billy Burns are the half backs while Will Addison comes into the centre alongside Stuart McCloskey. Addison comes in to face Manu Tuilagi and is likely a more defensive pick. In the outside backs, Michael Lowry starts at full back with Jacob Stockdale and Craig Gilroy occupying the wing berths.
Both teams have offered up some terrific rugby in the past with the previous meeting being a 26-7 win for Ulster in 2014, where Darren Cave scored a hat trick of tries. Ulster have reminded us about our unbeaten run at home in the European competition this week and have some stunning performances including a 41-7 win in 2012 and a 33-0 win in 2003. However neither team has been hitting the heights of 2012 recently.
Tigers missed out on a Premiership play-off spot at the hands of Newcastle for the first time ever last season while their start to the season has been less than convincing. Matt O’Connor was relieved of his duties after a 40-6 drubbing at Exeter in the opening game week while losses against Wasps and at home to Worcester followed. Tigers have conceded 40+ points in three games so far and have conceded the most tries (27) in the league.
Still, they’ve a centre partnership to be feared in Matt Toomua and Manu Tuilagi and George Ford is hitting some form with influential performances in Leicester’s wins over Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks. They’ll target Ulster up front, especially after seeing Ulster’s scrum go backwards last week but they have weakness, like Ulster, at lineout, where they have the worst success rate in the Gallagher Premiership.
The FRU predicts: Ulster always front up when the big guns from England and France come to town. I predict a tight contest with loads of knock ons and lost lineouts, but most importantly an Ulster win! Ulster by 6.
|Ulster Rugby||Leicester Tigers|
|Michael Lowry||15||Jonah Holmes|
|Craig Gilroy||14||Adam Thompstone|
|Will Addison||13||Manu Tuilagi|
|Stuart McCloskey||12||Kyle Eastmond|
|Jacob Stockdale||11||Jordan Olowofela|
|Billy Burns||10||George Ford|
|John Cooney||9||Ben Youngs|
|Andrew Warwick||1||Greg Bateman|
|Rory Best||2||Tom Youngs|
|Ross Kane||2||Dan Cole|
|Alan O’Connor||4||Mike Williams|
|Iain Henderson||5||Harry Wells|
|Marcell Coetzee||6||Guy Thompson|
|Jordi Murphy||7||Brendon O’Connor|
|Nick Timoney||8||Sione Kalamafoni|
|Adam McBurney||16||Tatafu Polota-Nau|
|Eric O’Sullivan||17||David Fe’ao|
|Marty Moore||18||Joe Heyes|
|Kieran Treadwell||19||Sam Lewis|
|Sean Reidy||20||Tommy Reffell|
|David Shanahan||21||Sam Harrison|
|Angus Curtis||22||Matt Toomua|
|Angus Kernohan||23||Gareth Owen|