Dan McFarland has made six changes as Ulster welcome Scarlets to the Kingspan Stadium in the Guinness PRO14 tomorrow night.
Louis Ludik is set to make his 100th Ulster appearance at fullback tomorrow night while Dave Shanahan will make his 50th if he comes off the bench.
There’s no changes in the front row with Marty Moore and Rob Herring starting their fourth and fifth game in a row respectively. Eric O’Sullivan starts at loosehead prop. With the back to back matches against Harlequins looming, Iain Henderson is not risked with Kieran Treadwell and Alan O’Connor linking up in the second row. Marcell Coetzee retains the eight jersey while Sean Reidy swaps to the openside to allow Matty Rea to occupy the blindside.
Billy Burns is absent after picking up an injury last week and Bill Johnston takes his position at out half with man of the moment, John Cooney at nine. Matt Faddes joins Stuart McCloskey in the centre in his first game since the away loss to Munster. Craig Gilroy and Robert Baloucoune are welcomed back into the fold on the wings with veteran Ludik at fullback.
Angus Kernohan will make his first appearance of the season if he comes off the bench while brother of Alan, David O’Connor will make his Ulster debut as a replacement.
With Wales entertaining Rory Best’s Barbarians at the Principality Stadium this weekend, Brad Mooar’s Scarlets are seriously hampered by call ups and injuries. Rhys Patchell, Kieron Fonotia and Jonathan Davies are injured while Johnny McNicholl, Leigh Halfpenny, Hadleigh Parkes and Ken Owens are four of the nine named in Wayne Pivac’s first Wales side.
Tongan international Sam Lousi debuts at lock while Uzair Cassiem, Josh MacLeod and Blade Thomson form a formidable back row trio. Ryan Conbeer starts on the bench and the former Sevens international scored a stunning try against Ulster at Parc-y-Scarlets two seasons ago.
Mooar’s men have been ticking along nicely so far this season. They sit just three points off Munster in second place of Conference B and very nearly came away with a win at the once impenetrable Stade Mayol last week. A rough year last season sees them competing in the Challenge Cup and they are in third place in a group with Toulon, London Irish and Bayonne. They’ll have their eye on some silverware this year and this trophy is one they can certainly win.
Hopefully Louis Ludik can celebrate a win on his 100th Ulster appearance. Signed from Agen in 2014, the 33-year-old is in a rich vein of form currently and looks almost untouchable under the high ball. The former Sharks player doesn’t possess the pace that any of Ulster’s other back three players have, but his positional awareness and defensive strengths have led him to become a great signing for the province.
The FRU predicts: In recent seasons Ulster have struggled to back up an impressive win in Europe with a solid performance in the league. This is a match where Ulster need to be targeting a bonus point win. However I’m not convinced they’ll get it. Ulster by 12 points.
|Louis Ludik||15||Steff Evans|
|Robert Baloucoune||14||Corey Baldwin|
|Matt Faddes||13||Steff Hughes|
|Stuart McCloskey||12||Paul Asquith|
|Craig Gilroy||11||Morgan Williams|
|Bill Johnston||10||Dan Jones|
|John Cooney||9||Kieran Hardy|
|Eric O’Sullivan||1||Phil Price|
|Rob Herring||2||Ryan Elias|
|Marty Moore||3||Samson Lee|
|Alan O’Connor||4||Lewis Rawlins|
|Kieran Treadwell||5||Sam Lousi|
|Matthew Rea||6||Uzair Cassiem|
|Sean Reidy||7||Josh MacLeod|
|Marcell Coetzee||8||Blade Thomson|
|Adam McBurney||16||Marc Jones|
|Andrew Warwick||17||Dylan Evans|
|Tom O’Toole||18||Werner Kruger|
|David O’Connor||19||Steve Cummins|
|Nick Timoney||20||Jac Morgan|
|Dave Shanahan||21||Jonathan Evans|
|Angus Curtis||22||Ryan Lamb|
|Angus Kernohan||23||Ryan Conbeer|