The IRFU have selected the Ulster team to face Scarlets tomorrow afternoon at Parc Y Scarlets, (KO 14:40).
Jarred Payne and Stuart Olding get and early chance to put their hands up as the centre pairing with new signing Louis Ludik starting a full back though I wouldn’t be surprised to see Payne and Ludik swap about throughout the game.
The other new signings Franco van de Merwe and Wiehahn Herbst also start with Merwe in second row, alongside Dan Tuohy, and Herbst at tighthead, alongside Rob Herring and Callum Black. Both Herbst and Merwe have a bit of settling in to do with Herbst, in particular, a surprise start ahead of Declan Fitzpatrick.
No better match to show their worth than in an away trip to Llanelli and with the Scarlets fielding a strong side it’s likely that both will get a robust welcome to the PRO12.
In fact, it’ll be a good test for all of the new look Ulster side whom I suspect will struggle in this one! The return of Chris Henry to the back row alongside Robbie Diack and Roger Wilson does give me some cause for hope and if Paul Marshall and Ian Humphreys bring their “A” game then Ulster stand a fair chance.
The “New Old” Humph has looked rather composed and actually quite classy since his return and he’s just the sort of player that could get under the skin of his opposite number, Rhys Priestland, who can be a touch flakey, though a lot will depend on Marshall getting his passes in vaguely the right direction!
However, players such as Ludik, Payne, Olding, Marshall and Humphreys are only ever going to guild the lily and the real work will be done up front. We should know a lot more about Herbst and vdMerwe after this one!.
THE FRU PREDICTS: Humphreys and Olding to provide a second half performance of outstanding trickery for Ulster to snatch an unlikely win in the closing minutes! #SUFTUM