Stuart Olding has come a long way from this little mop topped urchin in the 2011 Schools Cup final!

Stuart Olding has come a long way from this little mop topped urchin in the 2011 Schools Cup final!

Stuart Olding will play his first game for Ulster in ten months after being selecting in the starting XV to face Leinster at Tallaght Stadium tomorrow (kick off 16:00).

The former little mop topped BRA outhalf has certainly made huge strides in the game since he ran out for his school against Ballymena Academy three years ago and his return from injury is greeted with huge expectations!


15: Zane Kirchner
14: Fergus McFadden
13: Brendan Macken
12: Noel Reid
11: Darragh Fanning
10: Jimmy Gopperth
9: Luke McGrath
1: Cian Healy
2: Bryan Byrne
3: Mike Ross
4: Kevin McLaughlin
5: Mike McCarthy
6: Jack Conan
7: Shane Jennings
8: Sean O’Brien


Olding will be plying his trade at inside centre in this match alongside Jared Payne giving the IRFU a quick look at their possible “Dream Team” pairing in the centre.

In fact, with the IRFU largely picking both sides I expect the second half will be a possibles v probables as the likes of Herbst, Van Der Merwe and Ludik are replaced at the break!

In fact with Ulster naming twenty replacements and Leinster expected to do something similar on match day, tomorrow, the second half is likely to be a bit scrappy with the real work done in the first half.

The starting XV’s do feature some interesting match ups with Ludik v Kirshner at full back, Gilroy v McFadden on the wing and the afore mentioned Olding and Payne will need to make a mess of Reid and Macken if the IRFU are to get their immediate replacements for O’Driscoll and D’Arcy but perhaps the most interesting match ups, as far as Ulster’s season is concerned, will be the performance of Warrick and Herbst against Healey and Ross.


15: Louis Ludik
14: Michael Allen
13: Jared Payne
12: Stuart Olding
11: Craig Gilroy
10: Ian Humphreys
9: Paul Marshall
1: Andy Warwick
2: Rob Herring
3: Wiehahn Herbst
4: Dan Tuohy
5: Franco van der Merwe
6: Robbie Diack
7: Sean Reidy
8: Roger Wilson

Rory Murphy
John Andrew
Declan Fitzpatrick
Alan O’Connor
Neil McComb
Conor Joyce
Clive Ross
Nick Williams
Calum Black
Kyle McCall
Bronson Ross
Lewis Stevenson
Mike MCComish
Micheal Heaney
David Shanahan
Sean O’Hagan
Ross Adair
Jacob Stockdale
Rory Scholes
Ricky Andrew

If the Ulster pair can do some damage to the Ireland incumbents, in the set piece, then the season may not be that bad. The Leinster duo may be overrated in this island but they will be a fair test of our latest import from the Sharks.

I would also like to think that Tuohy and Van der Merwe will more than match McCarthy and McLaughlin in the second row and all in all Ulster should take a lead into the second half. What happens then is anyone’s guess.




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