Ulster are back in action tomorrow night against the Cardiff Blues after a week break and Dan McFarland includes eight internationals in the starting team.
Will Addison returns after injury to start at fullback with Matt Faddes moving to the replacement bench. Faddes will likely replace Addison who wont be match fit, in the second half, however I’m excited to see both these players take the field together later in the season. Nick Timoney is also in line to make his first appearance of the season off the bench.
Jack McGrath is recalled to the front row alongside John Andrew and Tom O’Toole. Sam Carter starts the night on the bench with Alan O’Connor and Kieran Treadwell occupying the lock jerseys. Marcell Coetzee burst back onto the scene with a great display against the Kings last time out and continues in the back row with Matty Rea and Sean Reidy.
Billy Burns captains the side from out half and is joined at half back by John Cooney. James Hume and Luke Marshall are the centres while Louis Ludik and Craig Gilroy start alongside Addison in the back three.
Cardiff have won one of their three games so far in the league with that victory coming against in the Kings in the opening round. Despite having notable absentees due to World Cup commitments, they put up decent showings against Edinburgh and most recently, Glasgow and currently lie in fifth place in Conference B.
They’re captained by former Ulster fan favourite Nick Williams while Willis Halaholo is set to make his first appearance of the season at inside centre alongside Garyn Smith. Halaholo combined with Rey Lee-Lo to seal a draw for his side in April 2017 which was the last time the Blues picked up any points at Kingspan Stadium.
Other players to look out for are Matthew Morgan who scored a sensational try against Saracens last season. Kick loosely to Morgan and he will punish Ulster, however the fullback is prone to an error or two and can put his side on the back foot. Jarrod Evans is another one to watch. He recently made his international debut for Wales in a World Cup warm up game, but missed out on selection for the tournament, but has been a thorn in Ulster’s side in the past.
Ulster are in good form so I would expect them to make it three wins from four tomorrow evening. In each of their last three matches they’ve scored at least four tries which has kept them within an arm’s reach of Leinster and Cheetahs at the top of Conference A. Ulster are firm favourites for this match, but as we know, they’ve not had it all their own away against the Blues in recent seasons.
The FRU predicts: I’m still tipping Ulster to win this match. They’ve a very strong squad out tomorrow night, with plenty of talent to come off the bench. Ulster by 12 with a try bonus point.
|Will Addison||15||Matthew Morgan|
|Craig Gilroy||14||Jason Harries|
|Luke Marshall||13||Garyn Smith|
|James Hume||12||Willis Halaholo|
|Louis Ludik||11||Aled Summerhill|
|Billy Burns||10||Jarrod Evans|
|John Cooney||9||Lloyd Williams|
|Jack McGrath||1||Brad Thyer|
|John Andrew||2||Liam Belcher|
|Tom O’Toole||3||Scott Andrews|
|Alan O’Connor||4||Josh Turnbull|
|Kieran Treadwell||5||Rory Thornton|
|Matty Rea||6||Will Boyde|
|Sean Reidy||7||Olly Robinson|
|Marcell Coetzee||8||Nick Williams|
|Adam McBurney||16||Kristian Dacey|
|Eric O’Sullivan||17||Corey Domachowski|
|Ross Kane||18||Keiron Assiratti|
|Sam Carter||19||Seb Davies|
|Nick Timoney||20||Shane Lewis-Hughes|
|Dave Shanahan||21||Lewis Jones|
|Bill Johnston||22||Jason Tovey|
|Matt Faddes||23||Harri Millard|