Mark Anscombe has made 7 changes to the starting XV for the visit of Munster to Ravenhill tomorrow night (kick off 7.05pm.)
Stephen Ferris has been named at blindside flanker and will earn his 100th cap for the Province. Elsewhere in the pack, Tom Court, John Afoa and Nigel Brady will start in an all new front row, replacing Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick and Rob Herring respectively.
In the backs, Andrew Trimble has been promoted to a starting berth on the right wing, replacing Craig Gilroy. Paul Marshall and Paddy Jackson, who were also on the bench last week, will combine at half back in place of Michael Heaney and Niall O’Connor.
Ireland internationals Chris Henry and Dan Tuohy have not been included in the match day squad despite being named in the extended squad on Tuesday. The two will instead get a run out for Ulster Ravens against Munster A earlier in the afternoon (Deramore Park, Belfast, kick off 3pm).
Anscombe said: “It’s important for us to get them some game time so the Ravens is a good start. Chris has only been training with the team for two weeks and has had very little contact. He hasn’t played a lot of rugby since the Heineken Cup Final. He went to New Zealand (on Ireland’s Summer Tour) but only got a few minutes. It’s a long season and the guys in their positions have been doing a good job so it’s a balance of getting them back up to speed and rewarding the players who have been doing the job for us.”
The New Zealander again stressed that players showing good form will be picked, and used Nigel Brady’s selection at hooker as an example. “Rob Herring has done well, he’s a young guy learning his trade at hooker and we’re happy with the way he’s progressing but Nigel came on last week and his experience came through. His scrummaging was outstanding and he contributed around the park and that’s what we want. It’s a matter of keeping everyone accountable for their performance and Nigel took his chance last week and has been rewarded.”
Anscombe was full of praise for the travelling Munster side: “It’s our first derby of the season and there’s a lot of history between the two teams so it should be a great occasion. They will be the best team we’ve played against so far this year and their history shows what they’re capable of doing. There’s no prouder union in the competition than Munster and there’s never going to be an easy game against them so we need to perform to our capabilities to come away with a win. I’m really hoping that we get a big home crowd out to support us and I really want us to get a victory.”
Over 9,500 tickets have been sold but there is still availability in some areas of the ground. The terrace is sold out but tickets are still available in the Grandstand and Promenade. Call 02890493222 or visit www.ulsterrugby.com for details.
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. Park 'n' Ride will be in operation from Pirrie Park and along Montgomery Road from 1.5 hours before kick off to 1.5 hours
Ulster XV & replacements to face Munster, RaboDirect PRO12, Friday 14th September, Ravenhill (7.05pm):
(15-9): J Payne; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, M Allen; P Jackson, P Marshall;
(1-8): T Court, N Brady, J Afoa, J Muller (c), L Stevenson, S Ferris, S Doyle, N Williams;
Replacements (16-23): R Herring, C Black, D Fitzpatrick, N McComb, M McComish, M Heaney, P Nelson, C Gilroy.