Six of Ulster’s World Cup players have gone straight into the starting XV to face Scarlets Saturday afternoon at the Parc y Scarlets (kick off 3pm).
Head Coach Brian McLaughlin has made a total of seven personnel changes and two positional switches for the RaboDirect PRO12 clash. Johann Muller returns to captain the side from the second row, where he is resumes his partnership with Dan Tuohy. Ireland prop Tom Court will join Andi Kyriacou and Declan Fitzpatrick in the front row. The back row remains unchanged from the lastmatch against Treviso, with Pedrie Wanneneburg and Mike McComish on the flanks and Chris Henry at number 8.
Paul Marshall makes way for returning Springbok Ruan Pienaar at scrumhalf, with Ian Humphreys starting in the number 10 jersey and Paddy Wallace and Nevin Spence occupying the centre positions. Andrew Trimble and Craig Gilroy have been named on the wings, with Simon Danielli starting at fullback.
McLaughlin is confident the returning players will benefit the team: “We’ve had a very positive week with Johann at the helm as captain and we’re looking to put in a positive performance on Saturday. When you and in Andrew, Simon, Paddy, Tom and Ruan, we are starting to take a bit more shape.
“The guys who have played up until now have done a great job and they will get plenty of opportunities as the season progresses, with so many games on the horizon.
“We had to make a few tough decisions in terms of selection. Leaving Darren Cave out of the side was very difficult considering the form he was in. Paddy (Wallace) and Nevin (Spence) struck up a good relationship last season and it’s a tried and tested combination. We know with Darren on the bench, it will give us a bit of quality there and it gives us great options.
“We have a long run of games no and it’s important that we get off on the right foot against Scarlets. We will be looking for a good performance as well as a good result.”
Ulster go into the game on the back of three straight defeats, including a loss to Treviso last time out which brought their nine game winning streak at home to an end. Ulster are stuck on 99 wins in this competition but having completed a double over Scarlets last season, they will be quietly confident.
Ulster (15-9): S Danielli; A Trimble, N Spence, P Wallace, C Gilroy; I Humphreys, R Pienaar;
(1-8): T Court, A Kyriacou, D Fitzpatrick, J Muller (capt), D Tuohy, P Wannenburg, M McComish, C Henry;
Replacements (16-23): N Brady, P McAllister, A Macklin, L Stevenson, R Diack, P Marshall, D Cave, A D’Arcy
Unavailable due to injury: Jared Payne (achilles), Luke Marshall (jaw), Jerry Cronin (neck)
Unavailable due to World Cup recovery: Rory Best, Stephen Ferris