Iain Henderson’s inclusion in the starting lineup is the big news ahead of Leicester v Ulster tomorrow afternoon (15:15).
John Cooney is also included among the replacements in the only other change to the match day panel.
Rory Best will lead the pack from the front alongside Eric O’Sullivan and Marty Moore. Henderson is partnered in the second row by the ever-improving Kieran Treadwell while dynamic Marcell Coetzee, Sean Reidy and Jordi Murphy continue in the back row at 8, 6 and 7 respectively.
Dave Shanahan impressed in the win over Racing 92 last Saturday, coming in for John Cooney at late notice and continues in his scrum half role alongside Billy Burns at out half. Stuart McCloskey and Will Addison will be hoping to keep Manu Tuilagi as quiet as they did in the fixture at Kingspan from the centres. Ulster’s back three is made up of Jacob Stockdale, Robert Baloucoune and Louis Ludik.
As mentioned in the view from the opposition article published on Wednesday, Leicester have had a tough time of it recently. Already out of Europe, they sent a rotated squad to Parc-y-Scarlets last week which resulted in a very heavy defeat. They suffered eight losses on the trot from 27th October to 22nd December including four home defeats but seemed to have turned a corner over Christmas with wins over Harlequins and Gloucester.
Ulster’s win at Kingspan in 2015 to deny them a spot in the knock out rounds lives on in their minds as they have named a strong side. Ben Youngs will move into the top three appearance makers in his club’s European history after being named with George Ford at half backs. The latter has proved to be a bright spark in a difficult season for the East Midlands team.
They’ve a talented back row in Mike Williams, Brendon O’Connor and Sione Kalamafoni with the latter being an excellent ball carrier. Jordan Olowofela has broken into the Leicester side under the stewardship of Geordan Murphy and starts on the left wing. He’s a talented player but with Robert Baloucoune’s defensive exploits coming out on top against Juan Imhoff, I fancy the Enniskillen man to have a firm grip on his opposite man.
Ulster ran out comfortable winners in the previous fixture in testing conditions but the crucial try bonus point alluded them. It was our first taste of Will Addison at outside centre while the pack gained a platform thanks to strong performances from Coetzee, Murphy and Nick Timoney. Tomorrow’s back row has been a strength for Ulster whenever they’ve played together and if they can get on top then the backline should be able to create chances.
It will be a good game tomorrow. While Ulster can rely on other results – namely Edinburgh to defeat Montpellier tonight and Munster to defeat Exeter tomorrow – we’ll see the away side take the game to their hosts. Welford Road is a wonderful stadium and it’ll be to no one’s surprise that the travelling supporters will make themselves heard!
The FRU predicts: Usually I predict a defeat for Ulster away home. However with the vociferous travelling support making themselves heard, I’m tipping an Ulster win and plenty of sore heads on Sunday morning.
|Jonah Holmes||15||Louis Ludik|
|Jonny May||14||Robert Baloucoune|
|Manu Tuilagi||13||Will Addison|
|Matt Toomua||12||Stuart McCloskey|
|Jordan Olowofela||11||Jacob Stockdale|
|George Ford||10||Billy Burns|
|Ben Youngs||9||Dave Shanahan|
|Greg Bateman||1||Eric O’Sullivan|
|Jake Kerr||2||Rory Best|
|Dan Cole||3||Marty Moore|
|Mike Fitzgerald||4||Iain Henderson|
|Graham Kitchener||5||Kieran Treadwell|
|Mike Williams||6||Sean Reidy|
|Brendon O’Connor||7||Jordi Murphy|
|Sione Kalamafoni||8||Marcell Coetzee|
|Ross McMillan||16||Rob Herring|
|Facundo Gigena||17||Andy Warwick|
|Joes Heyes||18||Ross Kane|
|Harry Wells||19||Alan O’Connor|
|Will Evans||20||Nick Timoney|
|Ben White||21||John Cooney|
|Joe Ford||22||Michael Lowry|
|Sam Aspland-Robinson||23||Darren Cave|