Ruan Pienaar and Paddy McAllister have both been included in the starting team for Ulster’s Heineken Cup Pool 4 match versus Aironi at Ravenhill on Friday (kick off 7.30pm).
Brian McLaughlin has recalled Pienaar at scrumhalf in place of Paul Marshall, who drops to the replacements bench. He is partnered at halfback with Ian Humphreys, and the backline remains otherwise unchanged. Paddy McAllister is given an opportunity to start at loosehead prop, with Ireland international Tom Court making way.
Stefan Terblanche, who arrived in Belfast on Sunday, has gone straight into the matchday squad and will win his first cap for the Province if he takes the field. The former South Africa international has the ability to cover fullback, wing and centre. Elsewhere on the bench, Andi Kyriacou will provide cover at hooker instead of Nigel Brady.
Commenting on his scrumhalf selection, McLaughlin said: “Paul is a terrific player and has proved himself over the past few weeks. But Ruan was the Magner’s League Player of the Year last season so he deserves a chance. His match time has been limited so it will be good for him to get some time on the pitch. We now have two quality scrumhalves.”
He continued, “It was important for Paddy McAllister’s development to start in a match at this level. And it means we have the option to bring a quality player like Tom on if we need to. We also have Stefan in the squad. He’s a true professional and will add a great deal to the team in terms of his experience. He’s an international player and has played for the Ospreys in Europe so he will be comfortable if he comes on.”
There are still tickets available for Friday’s game. They can be bought online at www.ulsterrugby.com or by calling the ticket office on 02890493222 (ticketing option). Alternatively, you can pay at the gate on match night.
Please be aware that ticket zoning and scanning will be in operation at the ground this season.
Ulster Match Day Squad to face Aironi, Friday 9th December, Ravenhill (kick-off 7.30pm)
(15-9): A D’Arcy; A Trimble, D Cave, N Spence, C Gilroy; I Humphreys, R Pienaar;
(1-8): P McAllister, R Best, J Afoa, J Muller (capt), D Tuohy, S Ferris, C Henry, P Wannenburg;
Replacements (16-23): A Kyriacou, T Court, A Macklin, L Stevenson, R Diack, P Marshall, P Jackson, S Terblanche
Unavailable due to injury: Jared Payne (achilles), Declan Fitzpatrick (neck), Paddy Wallace (thumb)