Mark Anscombe has handed competitive debuts to Sean Doyle, Nick Williams, Rob Herring and Michael Heaney for Friday evening’s RaboDirect PRO12 encounter against Glasgow at Ravenhill.
Doyle and Williams will be joined in the back row by Robbie Diack, while Johann Muller continues as skipper in the engine room alongside Lewis Stevenson. In the front row, Irish qualified South African hooker Herring is joined by props Callum Black and John Afoa. Should replacement forward Tom Court come off the bench at any stage during the game it will mark the prop’s 100th appearance for the Province.
Behind the scrum, Heaney will start at scrumhalf where he is partnered by former Methodist College schoolmate Paddy Jackson at halfback. Luke Marshall and Chris Farrell will form an all new centre partnership in what is a youthful and energetic backline.
Right wing Michael Allen will make only his second ever appearance for the Province, while Craig Gilroy – the most capped player in the backline with 43 caps – will play on the other flank. The back three is completed by fullback Jared Payne who will play his first RaboDirect PRO12 game since he ruptured his Achilles tendon against Cardiff just over 11 months ago.
If Ulster have a relatively inexperienced starting XV, the same cannot be said of the 8 replacements, who have over 500 caps between them. Included on the bench are Ireland squad members Court, Declan Fitzpatrick, Paul Marshall and Darren Cave.
Nigel Brady, Neil McComb and Mike McComish are the other forward replacements. If Niall O’Connor comes off the bench it will be the flyhalf’s first appearance for Ulster in 20 months after returning from a spell with Connacht.
Mark Anscombe, taking charge of his first competitive game with Ulster, is expecting a tough challenge from the travelling Scots. “They have named a strong side as we expected and they will provide a formidable test. They have brought a few Internationals into the starting lineup and have another couple on the bench.
“We have a strong bench too but we will see how the game pans out. Our Internationals on the bench haven’t played much rugby or had much contact but if we need to use them we will. I’m really excited about this game, hopefully we can start the season off with a good win,” concluded Anscombe.
There is still ticket availability in for this match, which can be purchased online at www.ulsterrugby.com or by calling the ticket office on 02890493222 (option 2).
Ulster Rugby is appealing to supporters to be mindful of local residents and to avoid parking in the immediate vicinity of the Ravenhill Grounds on match nights.
Parking is for permit holding residents only along the following roads: Onslow Parade, Onslow Park, Ravenhill Park, Ravenhill Park Gardens, Ravensdene Park, Ravensdene Crescent and Ravensdene Park Gardens. Any cars parked along these roads and not displaying a valid resident parking permit will be ticketed. There will also be restrictions in the Castlereagh area (Mount Merrion Avenue).
Supporters are encouraged to make use of the complimentary Park’n’Ride facilities on Ulster Rugby match days located at Pirrie Park on the Ravenhill side of the ground, and along Montgomery Road, on the Mount Merrion side of the ground. There is ample parking at both locations and they are just a short distance from the ground. Supporters can either walk or take advantage of the free buses that run to and from the parking areas and the ground from 90 minutes prior to kick off until 90 minutes after the final whistle.
If required, the PSNI will also close the two main approaches to the ground, Onslow Parade and Mount Merrion Avenue at peak times of entrance and egress to and from the ground. For more information please contact our ticket office on 02890493222.
Ulster XV & replacements to play Glasgow, RaboDirect PRO12, Fri 31st August (7.05pm), Ravenhill
(15-9): J Payne; M Allen, C Farrell, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, M Heaney;
(1-8): C Black, R Herring, J Afoa, J Muller (c), L Stevenson, R Diack, S Doyle, N Williams.
Replacements (16-23): N Brady, T Court, D Fitzpatrick, N McComb, M McComish, P Marshall, N O’Connor, D Cave.